Chelmsford Theatre Workshop
Martin Walsh gave one of his best performances last week, as the ageing matinée idol in Coward’s Present Laughter.
Gary Essendine, always acting, posturing in a succession of dressing gowns, is a gift of a part [Sir Noel wrote it for himself], and Martin grasped the opportunities with both hands. Wisely avoiding the Master’s mannerisms, he created a polished but believable character, who sparkled brilliantly without eclipsing the rest of the cast.
Margaret Simmonds was excellent as the great man’s ex-wife, and Judith Robinson and Helen Wilson gushed nicely as two young admirers. Joanna’s Act II duet with Gary was one of many classic moments in Jane Valentine’s stylish production for Chelmsford Theatre Workshop.
The long-suffering household was Sheila Lauder as Miss Erikson, Dot Linney as the capable all-seeing Monica and Neil Arbon as a perky Fred.
David Madams and Wally Greaves looked suitably glum and uncomfortable as a pair of business associates, while Patricia Lee contributed a telling cameo as a pushy upper-class Mrs Worthington.
And Nick Wickenden gave a hilarious performance as the raving high-brow Roland Maule.
John Bush had designed an elegant art deco set, faultlessly furnished, though a carpet would have been nice, especially on the curving staircase for Mr Essendine’s grand entrance.