There is much pleasant laughter to be had in this wonderful play by Noel Coward, and some of it was occasioned in this production, under the direction of one of Adelaide’s prominent Coward-o-philes, Barry Hill.

It is one of Coward’s wittiest and almost pseudo autobiographical plays, in which the pompous and egotistic Garry Essendine echoes much of Coward’s life, as he swans through relationships, and other life dramas, acting both on and off stage, usually responding to the moment, without much concern for the future. His theatre of life is peppered with others who were also based on real people of Coward’s acquaintance, whether seduced by his charms or tolerating his tantrums. The superb language of this play demonstrates the ability of various polite society protagonists to demolish one another in a world without apparent pain or offence.

However, it is some of this wonderful language that is lost in this production, which does not quite do the script justice. John Koch as Garry looks the part, but delivers too much bluster and shouting, and not enough suave-ness and subtlety, so that some of the nuances of Garry’s character are lost, as are some of his superb lines.

Although sometimes not perfectly heard, Shelley Hampton as Garry’s ex-wife, Liz, is beautifully calm and authoritative, as is Julie Quick as Monica, Garry’s secretary. Between them these two women have the poseur summed up, and these two actors were among the best on stage. Alison Scharber was also suitably prissy and star-struck, as the one who must have been the inspiration for “Don’t Put Your Daughter on the Stage, Mrs Worthington”. Penni Hamilton-Smith is convincing as the Swedish maid, and Dianne k Lang is pretty, seductive and fickle as one of Garry’s conquests. Blake Parham has fun almost going over the top as the “most peculiar young man”, Roland Maule, another star-struck, eccentric, psuedo-intellectual adolescent pest.

There is a nice 1950’ s set that is not a box set, by David Lampard, who has managed to design a set with five doors, without making it cluttered or silly. This is a play always worth seeing, and which always provides both present and pleasant laughter.


The Therry Dramatic Society presents
PRESENT LAUGHTER
by Noel Coward

Venue: Arts Theatre | 53 Angas Street, Adelaide
Dates: August 19 - 28, 2010
Bookings: 8296 3477

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