Chichester Festival Theatre summer season nearly ready to launch with Present Laughter

TRACY-ANN OBERMAN photo credit Joseph Sinclair
TRACY-ANN OBERMAN photo credit Joseph Sinclair

After loving every second of Fiddler on the Roof last summer, Tracy-Ann Oberman is back on the CFT stage once again in this year’s season opener, Noël Coward’s Present Laughter (April 20-May 12).

Tracy-Ann is playing Monica, secretary to the womanising Garry Essendine (Rufus Hound), an actor at the height of his fame. He’s handsome, witty, surrounded by fans and about to take his latest theatrical hit overseas, but he’s also in the middle of a raging mid-life crisis.

“Monica is fantastic. She is his right-hand woman. He is an actor who is pushing on a bit now, and his best days are behind him, but he still wants to sleep with every woman. Monica is the one woman that has remained totally inured to his charm. I think at some point he did try to charm her, but she knocked that back. She has been with him for 17 years and there is a healthy respect and love between them. She is the perfect right-hand woman. She won’t take any nonsense from him. She won’t pander to his ego. She knows him so well and understands him. He needs someone to stop him and keep him on the straight and narrow. In these me-too times, everyone in a position of power needs to have someone like Monica.

“And really these are interesting times in which to do this play. Plus ça change and all that! You can look at this play as being about an ageing actor who has to bed every woman just because he is in a position to try to do so. He sees it as all these women throwing themselves at him. He has got one woman in one bedroom and another in another… But actually I think Monica is very important to him. She is the one that says come on, grow up. She tries to make him pull it all together. She is just trying to keep him professional, trying to keep him out of PR’s harms way, the harm to others and the harm to himself. He is just like a child.”

Tracy-Ann is delighted to be back at the CFT: “I love that theatre. It is one of my favourites. The thrust is so freeing. I feel I understand. You feel you have an instinct for a theatre, and this is great for me.”

Particularly after the success of last year’s Fiddler on the Roof, in which she played the wife to Omid Djalili’s Tevye: “It went down so well. The people of Chichester really took to it and embraced it. I think Daniel Evans is a fantastic director. I think he gave it a real truth. It was not just some frothy musical. It had a real punch, and we created a sense of really being this community. We worked really hard to make it real so that you could really respond when you see it breaking up at the end and the community being scattered to the winds We still hope that it will continue elsewhere. Daniel is still keen, but it is a very big and expensive show, and there are a lot of musicals on in London at the moment. But it is also a question of finding a theatre that it will fit into.”

www.cft.org.uk

For other stories by Phil, see: https://www.chichester.co.uk/author/Phil.Hewitt2

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