As many of the critics note, the success of a production of Present Laughter depends on the strength of its Garry, and Alex is more than up to the challenge. At Friday night's performance (the stalls nearly full), everyone around me was thoroughly enjoying the show and Alex's performance, and signaled it with loud and enthusiastic laughter. In addition, a couple of women next to me were waxing poetic over his clarity of diction -- rightly so, I think!
Everyone else has touched on the greatnesses of Alex's performance, so I'll just include three more. I really enjoyed the subtlety and variety he brought to Garry, a part which could be tiresome in the wrong hands. The righteous anger with Roland Maule (or rather, the anger with the kind of bad theatre Maule stood for); the Act Two loneliness, listening to potent 'cheap music'; the emotional intimacy with Liz and (in a different way) Monica: all of these things anchored and humanised the character.
I appreciated a few touches which seemed like Noel Coward to me, even though Alex wasn't doing an impersonation at all -- for example, his habit of throwing his arms wide to make a point reminded me of one of Coward's characteristic stances in cabaret performances (or at least the clips I've seen).
However, I also appreciated that he wasn't playing Noel Coward -- something which some of the critics seemed to want -- but instead was playing Garry. The seduction scene at the end of Act One was all the more powerful because it wasn't the more effete Coward but a Garry set up by the text. (And it was very powerful indeed!)
A great evening for Alex fans and for fans of Coward's work who don't require the baggage of the great man as well. (I say this, by the way, as a woman who proudly displays three small portraits of Noel in her study and who plays her boxed set of Coward CDs all the time.)
Fabulous stuff, wonderful Alex!