The Perfect Show to Brighten Up Your Essay Season: A Review of Theatre Western’s Production of Prese
Present Laughter (directed by Matias Wharton) does not go a few minutes without sending you into a fit of laughter. Written by Noel Coward in 1939, the play demonstrates that humour can span generations. Theatre Western certainly does justice to this energetic piece.
Last year, Theatre Western brought Posh to the stage and in 2017, the on-campus company chose to perform Our Town. Present Laughter was a perfect choice to follow a few years of dramatic content.
The show follows a few days in the life of Garry Essendine (Daniel Griffin), a 40-year-old actor who refuses to get tied down by the trappings of adulthood. When tasked with travelling to Africa for a tour, Garry must occupy his last few days with visits from those in his drama-prone social circle and a couple of quirky characters that will not leave him alone.
The first thing to take in upon entering the Mustang Lounge is the incredibly props and set that help situate us in Garry’s world. A pair of walls (provided by USC events) complete with door frames and adorned with posters and a painting help audience members understand the high social class of the characters in Present Laughter.
Another stunning aspect of the production is the hair and makeup (Abby Israels, Sarah Goralewski, and Alex Rozenberg). When looking at each actor, you can tell how much effort has been put into styling a character to match their personality. For example, the young Daphne Stillington (Bailee Court) has a highlighted fact that catches the lighting and beautifully wavy blonde hair.
The costuming compliments the styling nicely as the costumes help develop an understanding of each character. A character like Liz Essendine (Amelia Equbal), wife (because she didn’t get around to getting a divorce) of Garry and one of his managers, wears a silk dress shirt, high-waisted grey pants, and heels that match her shirt; a perfect look for an intelligent woman who seems to be the glue holding Garry’s life together.
The cast of Present Laughter is entirely empressive. It’s hard to single out a few standouts because the show is built on a great cast dynamic. The performance of Griffin was no doubt phenomenal. Reminiscent of an Algernon from The Importance of Being Earnest, Griffin plays the eccentric with a professional range in emotion.
Trisha Kershaw, who plays Joanna Lyppiatt, is magnetic. Kershaw’s manipulative character simply loves to play with the hearts of men in her social circle. Joanna is meant to be a hated character, but Kershaw gives the role a personality that makes the character lovable.
Liam Cronin, who plays Roland Maule, is a frequent scene stealer as his energy is unparalleled. Cronin no doubt feeds off of the reaction of the audience. He works with the blocking of the scene, running around the stage, making hilarious faces, and curating a wholly special performance.
Any difficulties with the production were minimal. One of the choreographed slaps between Garry and Joanna did not work from my position in the audience, and the slap did not make the crisp noise one often looks for in a choreographed fight moment. The unsuccessful slap, however, is the only moment that briefly drew me out of Present Laughter’s universe.
Present Laughter is the perfect show to get some comedy in before tackling a long essay or studying for a test or exam. The show is both aesthetically pleasing and nonstop fun. Everyone who sees this show will draw something from it— maybe connection to a character or a new appreciation for an older style of comedy. Regardless of what you like about Present Laughter, it undeniably makes for a great night out.
Photos Courtesy of USC Promotions.