The Crown

The Crown
Alex as the Duke of Windsor

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


pennyforyourdreams said...

Oh dear, doesn't sound great does it?

And I've got tickets! Let's hope it was just press night grumpiness and obviously Charles Spencer isn't a Coward fan, especially as I've read a blog post saying it was fab (

There was an interview with Alex on BBC radio 4's front row on Monday, you can listen again for 1 week. It's quite a nice interview. Enjoy!

Champagne Sparkles said...

Oh Penny, how wonderful you've got tickets to see Alex in this! Please get pictures to share with the rest of us that can't attend.

The link to the interview was not working when I tried it. One other interview had opening night clips, but I couldn't get that to work either!

Thanks Penny for the heads up on BBC4

jolande said...

Hello Penny,

good to hear from you and good to hear you'll be seeing the production. When are you going?


pennyforyourdreams said...

Hi Champagne Sparkles and Jolande,

Well done on keeping up with the recent Alex glut, Jolande, lots of lovely stuff to be had! I've put some screencaps of the Whatsonstage video on my blog, with a bit of snark ('cos I can't help myself)!

Hopefully, if all is well, I'm going to see Present Laughter on the 3rd of Nov. Despite all the tepid reviews (what do theatre critics know anyway!) I am really, really looking forward to it.

Keep up the good work!

Kind regards,