Love London Love Culture rounds up the reviews for this revival of Noel Coward’s comedy now playing at the Old Vic Theatre.
Time Out: ★★★★★ “Coward’s comedy lets Scott show off both his endless proficiency for delivering a well-timed quip, and his physical virtuosity.”
The Independent: ★★★★ “There’s an abundance of laughter – present and deliciously incorrect – in Matthew Warchus’ glorious revival of semi-autobiographical play Present Laughter by Noel Coward (first produced in 1942).”
The Guardian: ★★★★ “Andrew Scott gives a virtuosic performance in Noël Coward’s imperishable 1943 comedy.”
Culture Whisper: ★★★★ “Lots of plays are serious or sad (and there’s nothing wrong with that) but it’s a rare treat to leave the theatre feeling uplifted after an evening of belly laughs.”
Evening Standard: ★★★★★ “The play is flimsy, and productions often try to compensate for this with a rather laboured, shouty outrageousness that has the unintended effect of exposing the writing’s weaker moments. But here it’s realised with panache and a rich sense of mischief.”
London Theatre.co.uk: ★★★★★ “Director Matthew Warchus’ production strips out a lot of the pomp and class from the play; Garry is a successful actor, but he isn’t portrayed as just a funny snob here. He’s actually pretty tragic. When he’s alone he hangs around the phone longing – sometimes literally begging – for company, and when it inevitably arrives, he can’t stand it.”
The Times: ★★★★★ “The word “heyday” could have been invented by Noël Coward and that is the word that sprang to mind as I watched Andrew Scott here. He does not so much play the part of the vainglorious actor Garry Essendine as grasp it around the waist and do a hot-to-trot tango with it. His panache fills the entire theatre. The part feels made for him and he knows it.”
The Stage: ★★★★ “Warchus brings nuance and pathos to a play that could otherwise feel feather-light and archaic. Not only is it a huge amount of fun – Warchus has a sure hand when it comes to farce – but, thanks to his sensitive direction and Scott’s astonishingly good central performance, it’s also surprisingly moving.”
The Arts Desk: ★★★★★ “Expanding upon a comic landscape he last addressed in his bravura resuscitation of Boeing Boeing (also designed in corresponding door-intensive mode by Howell), Warchus keeps enough plates spinning to silence a few casting cavils and is blessed with that rare leading man of whom one simply cannot get enough.”
Exeunt Magazine: “Andrew Scott is a great actor. But then you knew that, right? And it’s because of him that Matthew Warchus’s production of Noël Coward’s Present Laughter stops feeling like a play on the outdated side and instead becomes interesting.”
British Theatre Guide: “Thanks largely to a towering performance from Andrew Scott and great support, particularly from Indira Varma and Sophie Thompson, this 2½-hour-long evening is both novel and very amusing.”
Present Laughter will play at the Old Vic Theatre until 10 August 2019.