Present Laughter

Date 12th May 2023
Society Silchester Players
Venue Silchester Village Hall
Type of Production Play
Director Tristan Quittenton
Producer Tim Oliver
Written By Noel Coward


Author: Chris Horton

PRESENT LAUGHTER is an autobiographical play by Noel Coward about the price of fame.   In this work, Coward presents himself in the guise of Garry Essendine, who appears in the trademark dressing gown and attracts a collection of admirers ranging from eccentric playwright, estranged wife, mistress and young, impressionable struggling actor.    As his admirers grow in number so does the size of his ego.       His collection of admirers form a tight community and Garry struggles to convince them that there is more to him as a person than a collection of lines and roles.  There really is a different person underneath.         

The set, Garry’s studio apartment was carefully designed to enable the action to flow from the living to the spare bedroom one side and the study the other side.    It was tastefully decorated with rich blue walls, pictures and various props such as a lava lamp, old style black telephone and record player and this helped set the scene in the 1970s.   This was complemented by the occasional burst of music from the Bee Gees and Earth, Wind and Fire.  

The lighting was effective and well controlled showing various times of day and whether the room was in use or not.     The telephone was well used and co-ordinated.  

The success of this play depended largely on the presence of Garry (Brian Gillett) who faced an enormous challenge in terms of amount of time on stage, characterisation and sheer volume of dialogue.    Brian rose magnificently to this mammoth task and deserves special praise for his dedication in creating a believable and watchable, if not always likeable, character.  He was well supported by Clare Froud as his secretary and had some sparkling chemistry with Jennifer Bradley, his investor’s wife who was also having an affair with Morris (a producer).   Alan Birdsworth as Morris gave a very strong performance in this role.    Jill Gillett visibly relished tackling two very different roles; one as the Scandinavian housekeeper and later in the action as Lady Saltburn.  With direction from Tristan Quittenton and gorgeous set design from Tim Oliver and his creative team, Silchester Players gave us a visual feast and a very enjoyable evening.