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Present Laughter

Members say: Great acting, Funny, Entertaining, Delightful, Clever
80
Critics
80
56 reviews
Members
80
638 reviews
 

Tony and Oscar-winning actor Kevin Kline returns to Broadway in Noël Coward's classic comedy about a famous and self-obsessed actor whose comfortable life quickly spins out of control.

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'Present Laughter' takes place in the home of celebrated actor Garry Essendine, a puffed-up charmer with a knack for histrionics, wooing women, and extreme displays of vanity. With his birthday rapidly approaching, Essendine is poised to set off on a tour of Africa. The actor’s expertly assembled life is upended when a predatory fan, an obsessed playwright, and a young woman with more than Essendine’s resume on her mind are simultaneously thrown into the mix, all vying for his attention. As things spin wildly out of control, Essendine must scramble to keep his house of cards standing—and decide whether there’s room in his life to love anyone but himself. Co-starring Tony nominees Kate Burton, Kristine Nielsen, and Reg Rogers, along with Cobie Smulders in her Broadway debut. Directed by Tony nominee Moritz von Stuelpnagel ('Hand to God').

 


Cast & Creatives (22)



Reviews (694)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
80
Avg Score

80
The New York Times

“An uneven but enjoyable production…Let us give thanks for what Mr. Kline, embodying the capricious god of his own theatrical universe, has wrought. It is hard not to wish that the heavy farcical high jinks that surround him were on his high level…The staging by Mr. von Stuelpnagel 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.” Full Review

85
BroadwayWorld

“Kevin Kline, with his crisp classical delivery and expertise in physical comedy, cuts a fine figure as the world-weary man about town…Kate Burton shines with cultured intelligence as his not quite ex-wife who still cares after him. The moments of Kline and Burton together represent the production's peak of civilized high comedy…While this is an ensemble play with plenty of richly drawn characters, Kline is the colorful centerpiece." Full Review

90
Variety

“A delicious drawing-room comedy…Kline relishes the comic challenge in this snazzy production…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. Kristine Nielsen, who plays Garry’s secretary, Monica Reed, constitutes a master class.” Full Review

80
Theatermania

“Contemporary attention spans aren't built for a play like this, a nearly three-hour drawing room sex farce from 1939 where the stakes are low and the tension nonexistent. But the work that Kline and his costars are doing is so expert that it's easy to overlook the flaws of this way-too-leisurely amuse-bouche of a comedy…Kline, one of the American theater's great actors, was born to play Garry. He does it with all the comedic flair and panache we could want. And then some." Full Review

90
Time Out New York

“An absolutely splendid revival…The simple act of handing America’s greatest exemplar of comic suavity a role he was born to play is half the battle…Kline is the very model of a star who lets his brilliance illuminate everyone around him…He enlivens each moment with palpable zest and impeccable style, arrogant brio shading into middle-aged insecurity with a twitch of his perfectly trimmed mustache. He must do more Coward or share his secrets.” Full Review

70
The Guardian (UK)

“‘Present Laughter’ starts slowly…There’s a lot of business and jokes that are not exactly uproarious. There’s some creakiness in the way the play shunts characters on and offstage...The comedy also takes its maddening time establishing anything that looks like conflict…Garry is a hollow character, but Kline puts him together with care and shrewdness. As the play continues, his performance gathers increasing force until even a glancing gesture can summon helpless giggles.” Full Review

90
New York Magazine / Vulture

“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…The play’s three-act structure is pretty much faultless…If there are still some extravagances to prune and shaggy moments to comb out, they’re minor.” Full Review

55
DC Theatre Scene

“Kline’s fans are unlikely to feel disappointed...Yes, Kline is surrounded by some terrific pros. Director von Stuelpnagel adds some mischievous comic business…Yet all that talent goes into a show that registers as little more than a mild diversion, and a somewhat musty one…The goings-on are not frantic enough to be a full-out farce; not blunt enough to scandalize anybody in 2017; not funny or pointed enough to explain why the producers would bring back this play.” Full Review

70
Theater Life

"Kevin Kline, still dashing and trim at nearly 70, makes a joyously pompous Garry...But Moritz von Stuelpnagel’s uneven direction makes this production not nearly as dizzying a knockabout farce as Scott’s self-directed show or the highly sexualized almost-orgy Scott Eliot made...There are several fits and starts as the comic engine of Coward’s plot warms up in the first act. It isn’t until the hilarious second act...that the action really gets going." Full Review

90
Lighting & Sound America

"Kline may be the nimblest, most sophisticated comedian the American theatre has to offer, and the role of Garry fits him like one of his superbly tailored dressing gowns. Happily, Kline is sharing the stage with a prize collection of high-comedy playmates...The best part of von Stuelpnagel's production is that everyone on stage appears to be having a roaring time, thus making the audience want to join in the fun." Full Review

80
The Huffington Post

“They don’t rethink or reimagine or modernize Coward...They simply do the play very well…With three acts and every opportunity for mugging, it might have grown tiresome. Instead, it’s a treat—thanks to most everyone in the ensemble…Kline cannot be a revelation, of course, not at this stage of his career. But what a treat to see him in such fine form...Kline is matched by Cobie Smulders, who is indeed a revelation in her Broadway debut.” Full Review

80
Theatre's Leiter Side

“The production wouldn't be half as enjoyable were it not for Kline's exceptional charm...The laughs, though, aren't as frequent as one might expect, and, too often, they come not so much (or just as much) from Coward's dialogue or situations as from Stuelpnagel's staging or from the clownish behavior of the show's more gifted comic performers…The already colorful characters…are occasionally pushed to cartoonish extremes in arduous grabs for the gold ring of laughter.” Full Review

95
The Wall Street Journal

"Not only is Mr. Kline’s performance a triumph, but this revival is the best staging of a Coward play—any Coward play—that I’ve ever seen...Essendine is played for truth, not as a caricature, which simultaneously makes him more interesting and even funnier...By having his actors underplay the first half of the show, Mr. von Stuelpnagel heightens the payoff of the second half...By evening’s end, the laughter is loud, continuous and entirely well-deserved." Full Review

80
The Hollywood Reporter

“Kevin Kline was born to do Noel Coward...A performance of unimpeachable skill, made all the more delectable by its lightness of touch…von Stuelpnagel's production can't entirely disguise the wheezy fatigue of the 1939 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.” Full Review

60
AM New York

With all due respect to Noel Coward’s classic English comedies, do they really merit being revived so regularly?...Directed with a gentle hand by Moritz von Stuelpnagel, the production is pleasant but not especially interesting. There seems to have been no point in reviving the play other than to provide Kline with a star vehicle. Admittedly, the role fits Kline like a glove, especially given his knack for hammy personalities.” Full Review

70
Talkin' Broadway

“Kline and Garry fuse so tightly and so well that you're willing to overlook the other parts of the production that don't…Although von Stuelpnagel has staged the action capably, he hasn't settled on a unifying style for either the actors or the atmosphere…It can, and should, be fizzier and more buoyant...Kline, Burton, Nielsen, and Smulders can do a lot, but they can't do everything, Still, their efforts are impressive enough that nothing ever sags for more than a few minutes at a stretch.” Full Review

80
Times Square Chronicles

"It brings a much needed hilarity and lightness to Broadway, without pratfalls or other physical forms of amusement...Kline is a joy to watch...All of the supporting characters make a well-rounded cast except Bhavesh Patel who seemed to be in a different play...Director Moritz von Stuelpnagel understands that for comedy to be really great we must see the frailties and he does so in an understated way." Full Review

85
New York Daily News

“When your main character is a human peacock, you need an actor who can preen like nobody's business. Paging Kevin Kline, a debonair clown, who's ideally cast as the aging, mirror-mad matinee idol…Deadpan delivery? Funny physical bits? Check. Check…At times you’d like to hush the talky play…Cobie Smulders is saucy and sexy. Kristine Nielsen is reliably hilarious…Under the smart direction of Moritz von Stuelpnagel the production is in fine feather.” Full Review

80
Deadline

“Moritz von Stuelpnagel’s revival is fleet, funny, deliciously cast and over-the-top when it should be–and occasionally when it needn’t be, sweating just a bit too hard to earn the audience’s whoops of pleasure. Fortunately, Coward and Kline are too dynamic a duo to suffer any damage from such picked nits. Chief among the other pleasures are Kate Burton…Peter Francis James and Reg Rogers…Less chief among the pleasures are Kristine Nielsen...Bavesh Pavel.” Full Review

80
CurtainUp

“The show, overall, doesn't really go full sizzle until the second act…Kline’s delivery and timing are impeccable...Both Burton and Nielsen are at the top of their game and this production soars whenever they're on stage…The reason to go to the St. James Theater is to escape from reality for a few hours and enjoy a significantly stylish but thematically insignificant farce in an age weighed down by significantly weighty issues handled with neither wit or wisdom.” Full Review

80
Theater In The Now

“A night full of laughter and high-class comedy…Moritz von Stuelpnagel directs the play a bit safe but fills it with hilarity...Kline is a natural comedian. He knows how to land a joke. His physical comedy is effortless…Kline makes the production worthy of recognition. Alongside him was a strong supporting ensemble of women…Sometimes you just need to go to the theater for a laugh and this production fulfills that. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to Noel Coward.” Full Review

71
Front Mezz Junkies

“Does it make for a great night at the theatre? Or a hilarious one? I wouldn’t say that. It is quite good though, without a doubt, funny, but somehow the piece overall is lacking…Kline nails his role as the self-centered actor…Nielsen gets the balance just right, along with the formidable Burton’s grounded comic turn...This troupe of pros doles out all of Coward’s charming dialogue with finesse, but the madcap fun or hilarity...isn’t quite there.” Full Review

85
Newsday

“Directed with classy restraint by von Stuelpnagel, 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.” Full Review

90
TheaterScene.net

“As originally written, Noel Coward's ‘Present Laughter’ is an entertaining but old fashioned drawing-room comedy with juicy roles for actors. With Kevin Kline in the leading role, the play is elevated to the next level and plays like a comedy masterpiece. Kline's performance is one you will not want to miss. Some of his co-stars like Kate Burton and Kristine Nielsen also give indelible performances.” Full Review

70
The Wrap

“At times it plays like a Kaufman and Hart comedy under von Stuelpnagel’s not always steady direction. At other times, it is veddy British, proper, and absolutely terrific—especially when Kevin Kline and Kate Burton are on stage, which, fortunately, is most of the time…There’s too much slapstick around the edges of this ‘Present Laughter,’ and it doesn’t always appear in some of these supporting performances…Fortunately, Kline is divine. So, too, is Burton in the far less showy role." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
80
Avg Score

91
Great acting, Great writing, Hilarious, Entertaining

See it if you are looking for a light hearted funny show. Kevin Klein's performance is exquisite and will be remembered for a long time.

Don't see it if 3 act plays are not for you. The 1st act has a lot set up which can cause people to get impatient.

67
Funny, Banal, Overrated, Slow, Dated

See it if you want to see a strong performance from Kevin Kline and have a few laughs.

Don't see it if you want a true laugh-out-loud comedy and/or a show with likable and relatable characters.

69
Great acting, Dated, Entertaining

See it if Great cast and set/lighting design. Some clever/funny deliveries and stage directions. Energetic audience.

Don't see it if The material is somewhat dated and the urgent need for a revival is unclear.

75
Delightful, Great acting, Quirky, Dated, Entertaining

See it if You enjoy Kevin Kline and slapstick farce.

Don't see it if You are not a fan of slapstick farce or want to see a musical instead.

73
Masterful, Confusing, Disappointing, Overrated, Hilarious

See it if Kevin Klein in a roll that is so very suited for him.

Don't see it if you are easily confused by complicated plots.

75
Funny, Great acting, Fluffy

See it if you like Kevin Kline. The show is throughly entertaining and funny, a decent night out on Broadway.

Don't see it if you're looking for anything more than a light entertainment. Probably not the funniest show you've seen.

81
Funny, Delightful, Fluffy

See it if You like a light-hearted, entertaining, breezy farce.

Don't see it if You want a play of depth and significance.

60
Great acting, Dated, Great staging

See it if Kevin Klein is masterful and if you like farce, this is fun. Second act much better than first

Don't see it if you don't like farce or dated Noel Coward scripts

70
Funny, Pointless, Great acting, Fluffy, Stylized

See it if you enjoy wit at the expense of honesty, and want to see a show meant simply to entertain.

Don't see it if you want to care about any of the characters on stage, or see a show that even attempts to say something about anything.

70
Dated, Charming, Entertaining, Fluffy, Light-hearted

See it if you want to see a blithe Noel Coward drawing room comedy, adeptly acted & smartly directed; you want to see an all-too-rare Kline sighting.

Don't see it if you have no appreciation for flippant, frivolous stage comedies and seek anything contemporary, important and/or provocative.

93
Clever, Delightful, Great acting, Dated, Entertaining

See it if you'll enjoy laughing your head off & seeing great comic acting, especially by Kevin Kline, who is superb.Great 1 line zingers

Don't see it if you'll mind that the play is a bit dated (written in 1939), and don't enjoy slapstick farce.

60
Banal, Disappointing, Dated, Amusing

See it if you want to see some great luminous performances by Kate Burton and Cobie Smulders. You enjoy Noel Coward plays.

Don't see it if if you find Noel Coward plays dated and unfunny as I did.

Also Kristine Nielsen gives the same performance she always does but it's a... Read more Read less

75
Funny, Absorbing, Clever, Enchanting, Great acting

See it if you love Kevin Kline, and let's be honest you do so go see it.

Don't see it if No excuses. Funny night. Maybe if you don't like plays, but even then, you should still go.

70
Great acting, Overrated, Dated

See it if you are a fan of Noel Coward, Kevin Kline, or any of the rest of the excellent cast.

Don't see it if you don't like period pieces that ascribe to some problematic gender conventions/Noel Coward bores you

81
Clever, Delightful, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if you want to see the ever entertaining drawing room comedy. Fast moving and very funny throughout. Great acting by the whole ensemble.

Don't see it if you have a dry sense of humor or don't care for a farcical comedy.

90
Great acting, Hilarious, Entertaining, Beautiful set

See it if you like comedic farce - well acted and total escape - there is no redeeming factors to make you think about the world 2day, Kevin Kline FAB

Don't see it if You overthink everything - prudish and have to have a "meaning" for attending The Theatre

70
Funny, Slow, Dated

See it if You like dated plays with decent staging and good casting

Don't see it if You want a relevant play with outstanding staging

59
Funny, Disappointing, Dated, Bizarre

See it if you're a fan of farces, Coward, or Kline.

Don't see it if You're turned off by overacting, uneven casts, or pre-WWII sex comedies.

Also The play is funny enough, but not spectacularly so. (It's not pure far... Read more Read less

84
Funny, Clever, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if you are a fan of quick-witted British humor, Kevin Kline or Noel Coward.

Don't see it if high-brow humor is not your cup of tea.

75
Funny, Great writing, Witty, Fluffy

See it if you enjoy Noel Coward plays and the witty dialogue of another era. Most of the performances are first rate tho Kevin Klein wasn't all that

Don't see it if you don't have the patience for long first acts that pay off in the second.

82
Thoroughly entertaining quite traditional drawing room farce, enhanced by cowards dialog

See it if You want to see perfect casting. A kitzy set, great costumes and what wins Best Actor Tony in 2017. Cobie Smulders was perfection.

Don't see it if You want meaning in your theater going. This is for fun.

89
Clever, Delightful, Entertaining

See it if You love Kevin Kline (and who doesn't) and if you appreciate clever repartee.

Don't see it if You need serious.

88
Great acting, Must see, Dated, Great staging, Fluffy

See it if You are a fan of Kevin Kline and are willing to endure a rather uneven script to witness his absolute brilliance on the stage.

Don't see it if You would not have the patience for an uneven, dated script that mainly showcases the central character or if you don't care for Mr. Kline.

90
Funny, Clever, Delightful, Great acting, Splendid

See it if you want to see brilliant & comedic acting via the Masters Kevin Kline, Kate Burton and Kristine Nielson.

Don't see it if you don't want a classy & old fashioned comedy about a theatrical rake. Or want to see HAMILTON.

Also Act I may seem a little slow (it's actually Act 1 and Act 2 Scene 1) b... Read more Read less

81
Funny, Delightful, Great acting, Entertaining, Fluffy

See it if you like if you like a clasdic British Comedy- upbeat and smart; well packaged in a snazzy production.

Don't see it if you're in the mood for a serious stuff