I went to see a preview of Present Laughter last night and it was wonderful. Alex Jennings was born to play this role--he was an absolute triumph. The Noel Coward play had a terrific cast--the story is that he's famous actor and a serial philanderer whose wife left him years ago, but with whom he still works along with his agent and business manager. He is unable to say no to any of the beautiful woman who parade through his life and his ex-wife and colleagues think it is time for him to change. There are always people coming and going through his studio (wonderful set) at all hours.
Liz, the wife, is gorgeous, very witty and deadpan which makes her even more funny. He has a wonderful Miss Moneypenny-type secretary who manages every bit of his life with firm efficiency--she was excellent. Women and men desire him and fall in love with him all the time, and he's actually quite a bit in love with himself but despairing that his looks are going as he reaches middle age (40). He wears wonderful clothes including the most fabulous flowing silk shawl-collared dressing gowns, worn over regular clothes (like long smoking jackets, I guess). He was droll, pouting, selfish, debonair, witty, angry, despairing, howling, laughing--he was on the stage almost the entire time in the best role of his life. His comic timing was impeccable and there were so many subtle moments of understated comedy that you would miss if you weren't watching him so closely (as I was), because the rest of the cast was also so good. He commanded the stage with the ease of a man in his prime as an actor and had the audience in the palm of his hand. It is un-missable--his best role to date.
What a treat is in store for those of you who will be seeing this play. I hope he wins an Olivier for it--I don't see how he could not!