The other day I attended the matinee of Present Laughter starring the versatile Kevin Kline. I bought a ticket to see the show due to my love of Kevin Kline’s work. When all's said and done, I was actually disappointed.
Present Laughter takes place in the 1930s, Kline plays the role of Garry Essendine, originated by the writer of the play, Noel Coward. The play follows Garry Essendine through his affairs and business ties as an actor.
The first act of the show was very slow and many of the jokes were dated to the point that there were pauses for laughter and the laughter never came. In a show called Present Laughter, I expected to be rolling on the floor within minutes.
As slow as the first act was, the second act was much faster. The second act is structured more like a farce than a modern day play. Think of the play Noises Off and it is very similar in writing style to that show.
The performances by this all-star cast made this dated show worthwhile keeping me somewhat vested in the story. Kevin Kline as always, was hysterical and a brilliant performer. After seeing him in this role I realized that I would love to see him return to On The Twentieth Century, the show that won him his first Tony in 1978, but this time as the flamboyant producer Oscar Jaffee! Kate Burton gives an all-star performance as well and holds her own next to Kevin Kline, which is nowhere near an easy feat.
In her Broadway debut, Cobie Smulders gives an incredible performance. Fresh off her leading role of Robin on the hit sitcom How I Met Your Mother, a show that I was a big fan, I was very pleasantly surprised to learn how strong of an actor Cobie is. She was perfect for her role on How I Met Your Mother, but in a performance like this, she joins the acting ranks of Meryl Streep and Glenn Close. After her performance, I hope to see her on stage again!
All in all, this show was very entertaining if you are a fan of Kevin Kline, it is always a thrill to see him in person due to his over the top performances and how well he can command an audience with his comedic timing. That said, if you are not a fan of Kevin Kline to begin with, I would advise you to pass on Present Laughter due to the fact that the title is somewhat misleading.
A college student that sees many shows annually.