Present Laughter (1981)

TV Movie   |    |  Comedy, Romance

Present Laughter (1981) Poster

An aging and self-obsessed actor finds himself in a situation bordering on farce when he is besieged by the demands of his estranged wife, women who want to seduce him, and a crazed playwright.


Get More From IMDb

For an enhanced browsing experience, get the IMDb app on your smartphone or tablet.

Get the IMDb app

Reviews & Commentary

Add a Review

User Reviews

20 July 2017 | blanche-2
| part of the Noel Coward Collection
This is a taped live performance of Present Laughter, by Noel Coward, a 1981 production.

Here the role of Garry Essendine is played by Donald Sinden. Noel Coward, of course, wrote it for himself and starred in it, but other Garrys have included Clifton Webb, George C. Scott, Frank Langella, Nathan Lane, Peter O'Toole, Simon Callow, Ian McKellen, and most recently on Broadway, Kevin Kline, to mention just a few.

The story concerns a famous theatre star (who seems to be acting all the time), Garry Essendine (Sinden). While planning a tour of a play in Africa, he has dalliances with a debutante and his producer's wife, meets with an insane playwright, deals with his secretary's demands as well as those of his ex-wife.

It's chaotic, with people hiding in the spare room, the playwright continuing to show up, the incessant phone calls, the maid wandering through the house, the women -- it's a circus.

Present Laughter is semiautobiographical, farcical, and quite fun with marvelous performances. Essendine is a John Barrymore in Twentieth Century type, overblown, vain, with an ego the size of California, who lies about his age, constantly changes dressing gowns, has "woe is me" monologues, and at one point falls to the floor and begs his ex-wife to lift his head and give him a drink. Sinden plays the role with great abandon, as the character is always "on," always performing, and yet underneath it all is childlike, lonely, and lovable.

While it may seem over the top, that's the style. Very enjoyable.

Critic Reviews

Did You Know?


Plot Summary


Comedy | Romance

The Best TV and Movies to Watch in March

Read our editors' picks for the movies and shows we're watching in March, including "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier," Boss Level, and Zack Snyder's Justice League.

Browse our picks

The Most Anticipated Movies and TV Shows in March

Check out the most anticipated movies and TV to stream in March, including Zack Snyder's Justice League, Godzilla vs. Kong, and more.

Watch the video

More To Explore

Search on