Episode 027: Present Laughter by Noël Coward
Host: Douglas Schatz
Guest: Alan Brodie
Welcome to The Play Podcast where we explore the greatest new and classic plays. Each episode we choose a single play to talk about in depth with our expert guest. We’ll discuss the play’s origins, its themes, characters, structure and impact. For us the play is the thing.
Garry Essendine is a star of the London stage with an ego and celebrity lifestyle to match. But as he passes forty his excesses threaten to bring down the entire structure of his professional and personal life. Essendine is the thinly disguised alter-ego of playwright and performer Noël Coward, whose tussle with his own fame is the subject of his classic 3-act, 4-door farce Present Laughter. First performed in 1942 with Coward himself as the lead, the play has since attracted a glittering list of stars who could not resist the flamboyant turn, including most recently Andrew Scott in an Olivier award-winning performance at the Old Vic in 2019. Joining me to reexamine Coward’s ‘light comedy’ in the 21st century is theatrical agent and Coward afficionado, Alan Brodie.