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By • West End
Simon Callow, who’s currently making his musical debut in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Woman in White, hopes to return to the West End next year in a revival of Noel Coward’s 1942 comedy Present Laughter. Set in the glamorous world of the theatre during the Jazz Age, Present Laughter is a portrait of the life that whirled round Coward in his heyday. The playwright penned the comedy as a vehicle for himself, with a semi-autobiographical lead role. Flamboyantly vain and devastatingly handsome, Garry Essendine is about to set off on an extended tour of Africa, when he's visited by practically everyone he knows including his ex-wife/manager, lawyer, secretary, butler, business partners, an admiring young playwright and a recent one-night stand. Callow previously told Whatsonstage.com that he hoped to direct the production, which is due to open in Bath in February ahead of a long tour and then London (See 20 Questions, 12 Sep 2005). However, according to the Daily Mail, the production will be directed by Michael Rudman, whose revival of Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons transfers to the West End’s Theatre Royal Haymarket next month. It is, however, correct to say that Present Laughter may have to have a very long tour indeed. Apparently, Coward’s estate won’t allow two of his plays to be on simultaneously in the West End. Which means, Present Laughter will have to wait until after Peter Hall’s production of Hay Fever starring Judi Dench, which is due to open at the Haymarket in April.

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