Noel Coward Update Envisages When Marriage Equality Is Real
Noel Coward Update Envisages A Time When Marriage Equality Is Real
In the week that the New Zealand Marriage Equality bill gets its second reading, a reworking of Noel Coward’s classic play, Present Laughter, at Ellerslie’s Stables Theatre imagines a time when marriage is as equally tortuous and funny for everyone, no matter what their sexual preferences.
Sir Peter Hall, who founded the Royal Shakespeare Company and was director of the National Theatre for fifteen years, wrote of Present Laughter: 'what a wonderful play it would be if – as Coward must have wanted – all those love affairs were about homosexuals.'
David Blakey, the Director of the Stables Theatre production, which opens on Thursday 14th March says: `It is certainly true that Coward could not have written overtly about gay relationships, even though several of the characters are based on real people: Garry Essendine on himself; Morris on Jack Wilson, Coward's agent and lover; Henry on Binkie Beaumont.’
Peter Boyes, GABA Communications Adviser, who plays Garry explains: `In the original staging, Liz was Garry's wife. In this production an androgenous character called Leslie is married to Garry. Originally, Joanna was Henry's wife and had affairs with Morris and Garry. In this production, Jo is married to Henry and also has affairs with Morris and Garry. So all five of these characters could be gay men married to or involved with each other.’
David Blakey says: `Add in Ronald Maule, a closeted gay male, and Daphne Stillington, a naïve young woman who cannot work out what is going on, and all the gay humour that Coward wrote into the play suddenly emerges to make us laugh today. This is a Noel Coward play as you will not have seen it before - but perhaps should have.
‘In many of Coward’s plays, the principal characters – and especially the male leads – are not very nice people – or, rather, they would not be thought of as very nice today. It was one of my aims to make Garry Essendine a likeable man; he does have a tendency to overact and to lecture other people, but I wanted to make him behave like that without his having any nasty intent. On the whole, the Garry in my Present Laughter is a likeable man. At the end of play, I hope that audiences will be happy for him.’