“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 husband of one of my dearest friends!”
Matthew Warchus directs Andrew Scott (Sherlock) in Noёl Coward’s provocative comedy, ‘Present Laughter‘.
The play, whose title is taken from a line of song in William Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’: present mirth hath present laughter’, charts a few days in the life of comedy actor Garry Essendine, as he prepares to tour Africa. The farcical events that follow were described by Coward himself as “a series of semi-autobiographical pyrotechnics”.
Coward starred as Essendine during the play’s original run, and returned to the role for a US tour in 1958. Other actors to have played the role include Albert Finney, Peter O’Toole, Simon Callow and Ian McKellen.
Coward completed the play in 1939, and it was first produced in Blackpool in 1942. The production received great critical acclaim, with The Observer writing: “Mr Coward’s production is so inventive, and his own performance so adroit in its mockery of the vain, posturing, and yet self-scrutinising and self-amused matinee idol, that Present Laughter is likely to be future mirth for as long as Mr Coward cares to run it”.
The Manchester Guardian wrote: “One is tempted to cast discretion to the winds and predict that this will be remembered as the best comedy of its kind and generation…one of those rare occasions when the critic must claim the privilege of his fellow-playgoers, simply to marvel, admire, and enjoy wholeheartedly”.
Joining Scott will be Kitty Archer, Enzo Cilenti, Joshua Hill, Abdul Salis, Liza Sadovy, Luke Thallon (The Inheritance, Young Vic and West End), Sophie Thompson (Persuasion, Emma, Nicholas Nickleby, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1), Suzie Toase (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Parts 1 & 2), Indira Varma (Rome, Luther, Silk, Game of Thrones).
The production will feature set and costume by Rob Howell, lighting by Hugh Vanstone and sound by Simon Baker.
Tickets are on public sale on Monday 25th March, after priority booking periods from Monday 11th to Thursday 21st March for benefactors, patrons, associates and friends.