“I knew how deep your longing must be to have someone really to love you, to be with you, when I saw that dreadful prostitute come out of the spare room."

"That was not a prostitute. It was the wife of one of my dearest friends!”

Directed by
Katie Webster

Production synopsis For the 2021 February production, we have Noël Coward’s provocative comedy Present Laughter. As he prepares to embark on an overseas tour to Africa, star of the London stage Garry Essendine’s colourful life is in danger of spiralling out of control. Engulfed by an escalating identity crisis as his many and various relationships compete for his attention, Garry’s few remaining days at home are a chaotic whirlwind of love, sex, panic and soul-searching. Present Laughter is a giddy and surprisingly modern reflection on fame, desire and loneliness.

Below you can watch an interview with director Katie Webster on this production. You can also watch Katie’s original pitch for Present Laughter from our 2020 “Lockdown Launch”. (Please note that this video displays the original 2021 production dates).

Characters

Garry Essendine – 40 to late 40s – A matinee idol obsessed with his receding hairline and having something of a nervous breakdown. Garry is narcissistic, sarcastic, adulterous, mischievous, vain and bitingly funny. He is a whirlwind, jumping from one emotion to the next, and hardly ever stops talking – seriously! We do also need to see a softer, sadder side come through in the right moments, though; this whole play is about the human behind the celebrity going under the microscope. One of the best male comedic parts – ever! Extremely high energy role and requires nothing short of a tour-de-force.

Monica Reed – 40s to 60s – Garry’s, sometimes maternal, always long-suffering receptionist, come personal assistant. She takes his mood swings and tantrums in her stride – really nothing phases Monica. Without her, Garry would not know whether he was coming or going and, though he would hate to admit it, he knows this is true. Despite their steady mutual stream of scathing insults, they really do love each other deep down. A great comedic part with some lovely heartfelt moments.

Liz Essendine – 30s to 40s – Gary’s no nonsense, pragmatic ex-wife. Elegant, cool and collected, Liz walked out on Garry when she realised just how neurotic he really was. She now spends most of her days trying to sort out the mess that Garry - and the rest of their friends – always seem to make. A witty and poised role and the stabilising force amongst the madness.

Joanna Lyppiatt – 30s to 40s – Through marrying Henry, Joanna has wormed her way into Garry’s circle of friends and steadily broken the hearts of all the men. Now she has set her sights on Garry. She is suave, sensual and sexy – but not very likeable. You fall in love with her, you don’t like her. A very fun part with a bit of a “boo hiss” vibe!

Morris Dixon – late 20s to 40s – Garry and Liz’s nervous, neurotic friend. Hopelessly in love with Joanna – something that is majorly stressing him out! Very funny, high energy part.

Henry Lyppiatt – 30s to 40s – Married to Joanna and oblivious to her affairs – for now! Dapper and proper, with a solidly stiff upper lip. Nice sized part with funny moments.

Roland Maule – Early 20s – Poor old Roland. Roland’s heart really is in the right place, but he is just plain odd. A wannabe playwright who is somewhat obsessed with Garry – so much so that Garry’s unpleasantness simply bounces off him. He just loves Garry – he loves him so much that he wants to go to Africa with him…. A brilliant showcase for some young comedic talent.

Daphne Stillington – Early 20s – Garry’s pretty one-night stand and Lady Saltburn’s niece. A wannabe actress, she is sweet, silly and star-stuck. She has been in love with Garry’s persona for years. She just loves Garry – she loves him so much that she wants to go to Africa with him too…. Another a great comedic showcase.

Fred – 20s – Garry’s valet. A cheeky chappy from the East End. Laid back, easy going and unphased by Garry’s behaviour. He is actually quite fond of his neurotic boss. A part with some great lines who appears throughout.

Lady Saltburn – 60s – Daphne’s terribly proper, terribly posh aunt. Only one scene, but it really is when the mayhem kicks off. This part could be doubled with Miss Erikson. Great cameo.

Miss Erikson – 50s to 60s – Garry’s eccentric Swedish housekeeper. Not a glamour role…spends her free time smoking fags and trying to contact the dead with her friend who is both a medium and suspected German spy. Intermittently appears throughout. This part could be doubled with Lady Saltburn. Another great cameo.

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