Present Laughter is witty, sparkling and eminently theatrical; its star is matinée idol Garry Essendine, suave, hedonistic and too old, says his wife, to be having numerous affairs. His line in eager, adoring debutantes is largely tolerated among his small circle of intimate friends, but playing closer to home is not. Just before he escapes on tour to Africa, the curtain is drawn back on a whole tangle of his misdemeanours.
In between hustling infatuated conquests out of sight into the spare room, Garry gives a dazzling performance, centre stage in a light, charming, farcical comedy.
Arguably the most autobiographical of his plays, Present Laughter provided a perfect platform for Coward’s talents, both directing and starring as Garry. It was first performed in 1942 at the Grand Theatre, Blackpool.