Present Laughter | Rufus Hound & Sean Foley In Conversation | Chichester Festival Theatre


S.F. So they sent me this play – “Will you read it, will you direct it”? I read it & I did actually think that I did connect with it. I did think it was a really, really hilarious play. Yes, a brilliant play, brilliantly written. Not just line-to-line funniness, but also the dramaturgy basically. It tells a great story & it does it brilliantly. But I think there’s a danger of doing exactly that. Just sitting down & making very, very witty remarks, of talking relatively quickly, that sort of thing – which is all brilliant but it’s like a parody of what comedy really is, which is really seeing people squirming around in situations. Of not really caring about how you’re supposed to do “Coward”. This led me to think that what we really need at the centre of it is somebody who’s just genuinely funny. I don’t know why – but then I rang you. (Laughs). We couldn’t find anyone & you were available. R.H. I would think, depending on the actor that you have playing Gary Essendine, who Gary is changes. My way into it is that it’s more about “Fame” He’s very famous. It’s what what fame does to you. My own
feelings & experiences of fame. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no Russell Brand or Brad Pitt. S.F. Much better looking than either of those though Rufus. (Laughter). R.H. That’s why you cast me! He’s actually a pretty decent bloke but what fame does to people is it allows the weakest parts of who they are to be given license. S.F. It’s so satisfying, so straightforwardly
enjoyable, but there’s this amazing discipline behind it. It’s incredibly disciplined writing. R.H. It’s overwhelming how well constructed the thing actually is. S.F. Staggering! Hats off to Noel! R.H. I would love it to be the case that people who would never go and see Noel Coward in a million years, come & see this production. Because I think that what we’re doing with it is as “grab you by the lapels”, as exciting, as dynamic, as any comedy I’ve ever seen on stage. S.F. I hope that all the things I’ve worked on are shows that absolutely anyone can come & see. I haven’t seen enough “Coward” productions to say “oh there’s a definite style”. “That’s how you’re supposed to
do it”. I just approach it like I say – I read this comedy & I thought it was hilarious. So I wanted to work on it. So I hope they come along & are delighted & just laugh their heads off.

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