PRESENT LAUGHTER by Noël Coward is a funny, droll, witty romantic comedy. Kevin Kline, always mesmerizing onstage, is cast as an aging Broadway star who recites his favorite love lines to entice young women and reacts to minor affronts like he’s playing to an imaginary balcony. This role is tailor-made for him.
Regrettably, Moritz Von Stuelpnagel’s wacky, gag-riddled direction misses its mark. Coward requires a sly, even hand; it is a comedy of manners, not burlesque. Von Stuelpnagel has his cast performing slapstick, mugging and generally overacting, as if he didn’t trust the material to entertain on its own.
If you want the lead character to be recognized as an aging ham, you can’t surround him with prosciutto.