Tuesday, October 02, 2007
The First Review: The Telegraph - "Impossible to like – or laugh at"
Charles Spencer doesn't like "Present Laughter", the play or the production, but he likes Alex's performance:
"Alex Jennings undoubtedly gives a virtuoso performance, delivering Essendine's great arias of self-pity with aplomb, climbing on top of the grand piano the better to examine how he looks in the mirror, and launching into testy tirades of disapproval and unearned grandeur with palpable relish. Because he is such an attractive and charismatic actor, Jennings almost pulls off the trick of making you like the character, as Coward intended, but even this actor's prodigious charm isn't quite up to that impossible task."
"Too many of the performances lack the precision and panache that Coward demands, and a couple of them are so poor that it is hard to believe this is a National Theatre production rather than the work of a struggling regional rep.
Sarah Woodward shows how it should be done, with her superbly comic performance as the actor's gruff, disapproving secretary, finding laughs that don't seem to exist on the page, and Sara Stewart has exactly the right steely glamour as the wife who finally reclaims the errant Essendine.
Despite their endeavours, the impression remains that this is a botched shot at an overrated play."
For the full review