Review – Present Laughter By St Mary’s Theatre Club

It was raining heavily last night when we arrived at St Mary’s Town Hall to watch the Theatre Club’s “Present Laughter” by Noel Coward, now well into it’s summer run, and that could have explained the packed hall.

They were turning people away at the door and the front of house staff were giving passable impressions of nightclub bouncers – I certainly wouldn’t have messed with the stern lady on the ticket desk.

But once settled into our seats, we were presented with a treat to brighten up the gloomy evening.

The plot of Present Laughter centres around famous, but self-obsessed actor, Gary Essendine (Neil Middleton), and the problems caused by his various admirers as he prepares to leave on a tour of Africa. It’s classic Noel Coward farce with wives being hidden in side rooms as husbands arrive at the front door.

And farce is something that can be very difficult to carry off well – it needs energy and rhythm, something that the cast managed magnificently last night, largely due to Neil who is on stage almost constantly and kept the play moving forward at a rollicking pace. I suspect Director, Maggie Perkovic, also had a strict hand in this too!

Left to Right: Neil Middleton, Tom Scott and Gail Sibley

Special mention should also go to Jane Pender who played ex-wife Liz Essendine with subtlety and excellent comic timing, and to Gail Sibley who captured fantastically the long suffering personal assistant, Monica Reed.

The rest of the cast supported almost perfectly, with just a few subtle prompts required, especially as energy flagged a little towards the end, and there was nobody who let the side down.

But it was Tom Scott, playing the bonkers stalker Roland Maule, who stole every scene he was in, having the audience in stitches on several occasions.

The impressive set, designed by Owen Groombridge, deserves a special mention too – there wasn’t a shake or a rattle in sight and it perfectly captured the 1940s mood of the play.

All in all, congratulations to the cast on a very enjoyable evening.

View more photos from ‘Present Laughter’ in our galleries here

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