‘Present Laughter’ leaves ‘em laughing

‘Present Laughter’ leaves ‘em laughing
Clockwise from the front: Heiko Knipfelberg as Garry, Judy Glynn as Liz, Caroline Cox as Monica, James Thaggard as Morris and Pamela Hopkins as Joanna. - Tom Vaught | Sun

ANNA MARIA – The Island Players production of Noel Coward’s “Present Laughter” was brilliantly played with good timing and a beautiful art deco look to the set.

Coward wrote the play in 1939 but delayed releasing it until 1942. It was set in the 1930s and the Island Players cast had that glib way of talking that was the rage on the stage. Director Mike Lusk had the cast ready to go on the second performance when this reviewer saw it.

Heiko Knipfelberg plays Garry Essendine, an actor who is reaping the rewards of fame in the bedroom with his adoring fans. Knipfelberg does a great job of tying together the parts of the play, even though his character hates to be awakened too early. As the story begins, Daphne Stillington, played by Abby Deenik, comes out of the spare bedroom after a night of passion with Essendine. She’s got plans for them, although Essendine wants her to go home.

The situation is replayed again with producer Hugo Lippiat’s (played by Peter Ruscoe) sexy wife, Joanna, played by Pamela Hopkins. It seems the women go after Essendine using the excuse that they forgot their keys and he invites them to spend the night with him.

Finally, the mad scramble to get Essendine’s attention comes to a climax when mentally imbalanced playwright Roland Maule, played exquisitely by Craig Moran, barges in and immediately gets in Essendine’s space.

Finally, he has had enough and wants to go away alone with his estranged wife Liz, played by Judy Glynn.

The rest of the cast does a great job of keeping the story going in this rather long play. Kudos to Daniel Coppinger as Essendine’s valet, Fred; Cathy Hansel-Edgerton as Miss Erickson, the chain-smoking cook; Caroline Cox, as Essendine’s secretary, Monica Reed; James Thaggard as director Morris Dixon; and Denise Handly as Lady Saltburn, an important visitor.

“Present Laughter” is worth the time and money.

Call the box office at 941-778-5755 for tickets or more information.

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