The Theater: Star and Entourage

PRESENT LAUGHTER

by NOEL COWARD

"I have never been spoken to like that in my entire life," says the pretty, pushy woman who has elbowed her way into the briskly cross-talking circle around egomaniac Matinee Idol Garry Essendine. "Well, make the most of it," he replies, throwing the line casually away over his shoulder, serenely confident that there are hundreds more where that one came from.

There is nothing misplaced about that confidence; Essendine, though near farcical in his heterosexuality, is nevertheless Playwright Coward's most detailed self-caricature. The people who dance attendance on him...