Running since March 2017 Oscar and two-time Tony winner Kevin Kline stars in a revival of Noël Coward's backstage comedy that follows an actor dealing with a mid-life crisis.
The Broadway production of Present Laughter closed July 2, 2017. For current Broadway show listings and tickets, please click here.
From the producers: "Present Laughter" follows a self-obsessed actor in the midst of a mid-life crisis. Juggling his considerable talent, ego and libido, the theater's favorite leading man suddenly finds himself caught between fawning ingénues, crazed playwrights, secret trysts and unexpected twists.
"Present Laughter" was written by Noël Coward in 1939 and first staged in 1942 on tour. This will be the sixth Broadway production since its author debuted it in 1946, taking the role of successful light-play author Garry Essendine for himself. Coward revived it in 1958, again as the star. It was done again in 1982, starring George C. Scott (with early-career Nathan Lane as the aspiring writer Roland Maule), in 1998 with Frank Langella as Essendine, and in 2010 starring Victor Garber.
Kevin Kline, a member of the legendary inaugural season of The Acting Company, received Tony Awards for his roles in "On the Twentieth Century" in 1978 and "The Pirates of Penzance" in 1981. Kline was seen on Broadway most recently in the 2007 revival of "Cyrano de Bergerac." He won an Academy Award for his performance in the 1988 film "A Fish Called Wanda."
Uneven but enjoyable...Kline [builds] a paradoxically natural performance as a man for whom the histrionic gesture is a conditioned reflex. It is hard not to wish that the heavy farcical high jinks that surround him were on his high level. The staging brings out the more boisterous aspects of Coward's comedy, occasionally to hilarious, but just as often labored, ends. And the pace needs to be picked up throughout.
Kline appears to be having the time of his life...It's a role [he] takes to it like, well, a pig to slop. It's a fast-paced and straightforward production, featuring two equally delightful and delighted costars plus a mixed bag of supporting players. It all comes together, as it must, in a madcap second act where doors are slammed, people are hidden, and truths are finally, somewhat dizzily, revealed.
Kline yields a performance of unimpeachable skill, made all the more delectable by its lightness of touch. [The] production can't entirely disguise the wheezy fatigue of the comedy, but as complications multiply and the quasi-farcical cogs click into place, it runs like clockwork. That helps correct the imbalance of an ensemble in which the seemingly effortless work of the veterans outclasses their less seasoned castmates, if never to any major detriment.
New York Daily News
Kline, a debonair clown, [is] ideally cast as the aging, mirror-mad matinee. [His] nimble hands deserve their own applause...he employs them like semaphore flags, punctuating moments. At times you'd like to hush the talky play...the action tends to go in circles. Under the smart direction of von Stuelpnagel, the production is in fine feather.
New York Magazine
The production takes seriously the mess that radiates from Garry's narcissism, and with that seriousness refuels the hilarity of the farce that overlays it. In the hands of Kline and a vividly intelligent supporting cast, it's a great and frank and still modern comedy. Kline [gives] full due to the vanity and childishness that propel such a character without reducing him to a ninny. His physical comedy [is] no less skillful.
Directed with classy restraint...Kline holds back his virtuosic physical comedy until near the end, when his quick, startling feats made me want to rewind and watch them all over again. This is a revival that, despite a cast of farce experts, treats the broad moments as rare offhand treats that flash suddenly on characters as momentary glimpses into humanity's silliness. This production has one absolutely critical element for Coward. Style.
Coward's sublime comedy is as delightful, delicious, and "delovely" as ever. What makes the current production stand out even more is Kline's bravura performance...calling upon all of his skills, both comic and tragic. Director von Stuelpnagel does exceptional work with his ensemble, maximizing the manic comedy while allowing his leads to rise above type. There is humanity among these crazy characters and far more depth than you'd expect.
Time Out New York
Splendid...Kline is the very model of a star who lets his brilliance illuminate everyone around him. And what a gorgeous constellation they form. [The] assured, charged staging serves the play and characters...Kline enlivens each moment with palpable zest and impeccable style, arrogant brio shading into middle-aged insecurity with a twitch of his perfectly trimmed mustache.
A delicious drawing-room comedy...Kline relishes the comic challenge in this snazzy production...his timing is impeccable. Director von Stuelpnagel has assembled a cast of reliable pros who know the drill so well they could pace it out in their sleep. The lesser-skilled younger actors should study the technique of these veterans and bless their lucky stars for the opportunity to do so.