Starring Steven Sutcliffe. Written by Noël Coward. Directed by David Schurmann. Shaw Festival Theatre, to Oct. 28.
Long before Entourage, there was Present Laughter, Noël Coward’s semi-autobiographical comedy about a 1930s theatre celebrity and his retinue. Garry Essendine (Steven Sutcliffe) is the self-regarding sun around which his long-suffering manager, producer, secretary, and ex-wife orbit. It’s a nice little arrangement full of amiable bickering, until a sultry outsider (Moya O’Connell) threatens to bust it up. The Shaw Festival’s nimble new production honours Coward’s reputation as the master of light entertainment. There are morsels of insight into fame and middle age, but they’re chased down with a torrent of champagne-dry wit. Sutcliffe, looking less like Coward than like Martin Amis, is superb as a lovable bundle of ego and insecurity wrapped in a dressing gown.