Present Laughter: But Not Hilarious Laughter
Kevin Kline was made for this kind of thing. He has the presence and the comic timing that work so well with Noël Coward. He has the ability to elevate it from the droll to the hilarious. Effortlessly. So I was thrilled to have the opportunity to see him star as the egotistical and charming Garry Essendine, the centerpiece character in Present Laughter. Written in 1939, the show wasn’t actually staged until 1942 as part of an English tour along side Coward’s domestic drama, The Happy Breed, and eventually Blithe Spirit (you know how I love some good theatre history trivia).
But once I arrived at the theatre, I noticed, much to my glee, that this classic comedy also stars Kristine Nielsen, who is quickly becoming one of my all time favorite comic actors to watch on the stage. She manages, somehow magically, to invest her characters with such humanity and depth while bordering on the hysterical. She has a unique ability to drag every humorous ounce out of a line of dialogue that don’t necessarily seem all that funny to begin with. This quality is most evident in such breathtakingly funny performances as You Can’t Take It With You, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, and Hir (I only wish I had the chance to see her at the Public Theater a few years back with Laura Benanti in Christopher Durang’s Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them). Here, she plays with an amazing level of hilarity, Monica, his faithful and sarcastic secretary. Joining Nielsen….(for the full review: click here)