Cast in order of appearance
Review by Doreen Friend for The Harlow Star
When ageing lothario Garry Essendine, an actor long past middle age come to the aid of young women it leads to trouble.
Essendine (Richard Hollis) provides more than just a bed for the night to female friends claiming to have "lost their latchkeys".
Giggly, gushy, adoring fan Daphne Stillington (Jennifer Dorian), is infatuated by Essendine whom she met the night before. Clad in his pyjamas and dressing gown the deliciously dizzy blonde, vows to take care of him forever - albeit he can't remember her name.
Essendine's staff put up with his acting both on an off-stage; Fred, the valet -played to perfection by Keith Cummings; his secretary Monica, a great character piece by Christine Hollis; plus the extremely grumpy housekeeper Miss Erikson. June Gray's portrayal of Erikson together with her deadpan delivery of dialogue gave the best performance of the night.
The young, idealistic would-be playwright Roland Maule, (Lee Ocsko) had the audience in stitches when looking like demented Oriental tourist squinting through black framed specs' he launched himself at Essendine, claiming the traditional theatre has had its day and must make way for deep, meaningful, psychological drama. Maule's bear hug of Essendine was one of the comedy highlights of the play.
When family friend Joanna Lyppiatt (Suzanne Macpherson), claims to have lost her latchkey then reveals she has been in love with Essendine for years and seduces him, he shows her all the sincerity of a politician.
Liz Essendine, Garry Essendine's patiently enduring wife, loves him but prefers to live in a flat alone. Surprised to learn he slept with Joanne, the husband of a good friend, Liz decides to deal with his womanising once and for all.
The Noel Coward comedy resembled a bedroom farce when on the eve of Essendine's planned trip to Africa Fred took the night off; Erikson scooped a handful of cigarettes into her bag and left and Monica popped off to see a friend, leaving Essendine to answer the constantly ringing doorbell. As well as Joanna's husband Henry (Chris Millington) and her lover Morris Dixon (Adam Elms), marching about the stage like a pair of broad-shouldered gangsters', Lady Saltburn (Rose Floyd) turned up with Daphne her niece followed by Joanna - both declaring their undying love; meanwhile Maule returned and began philosophising. By the time Liz re-appeared Essendine couldn't wait to leave the chaos behind and live a much quieter life with just one woman. Present Laughter was performed by the Global Theatre Company at Harlow Playhouse, Studio Theatre on June 13 and 14.