Theater: Slambang Scott

PRESENT LAUGHTER by Noël Coward

Noel Coward was the master of the clipped, ice-cool putdown; George C. Scott is the master of the bristling, white-hot punchup. His voice is an explosion in a gravel pit, and he moves across the stage like a bulldozer in a china shop. Knowing that it would be folly to imitate Coward's brittle delivery and soigné manner, Scott has turned an airily sophisticated comedy into a rollicking, slambang farce.

Garry Essendine (Scott) is a middle-aging matinee idol whose warmest admirer is never more than a mirror away. Every big wheel has spokes, and Garry's entourage is loyal. His...