Noises Off

Backstage Chaos, Onstage Laughs!

"Noises Off" is an uproarious comedy that masterfully takes audiences behind the scenes of a disastrously doomed theatrical production. Written by Michael Frayn, this play-within-a-play is a tour de force of physical comedy, impeccable timing, and sheer pandemonium. From start to finish, "Noises Off" had the audience in stitches, proving itself to be an absolute gem of a theatrical experience.

The play's brilliance lies in its innovative structure: it presents the first act as a glimpse of the final rehearsal of a British sex farce titled "Nothing On" with many plates of sardines! As the characters fumble through forgotten lines, missed cues, and misplaced props, the laughter begins to build. However, the true comedic genius unfolds when the second act takes us backstage, revealing the chaotic relationships and dynamics among the cast and crew during a performance.

The cast's commitment to physical comedy is nothing short of astounding. The impeccable choreography of opening and closing doors, the perfectly timed slips and falls, and the hilarious attempts at improvisation had the audience in fits of laughter thanks to Movement & Fight Director Ruth Cooper-Brown.  Each character's quirks and foibles were brilliantly exaggerated, providing ample fodder for belly laughs.  Liza Goddard as Dotty Otley commanded the stage with her performance, Simon Shepherd as the worn-out Director Lloyd Dallas provided an hilarious look at the world of creating theatre, Dan Fredenburgh as Garry Lejeune finished the show with sweat dripping off him, testament to how hard he worked throughout. Other stand out performances go to Matthew Kelly as Selsdon Mowbray, the drunk actor who stumbled around the stage in search of the next bottle of whisky and Lucy Robinson as Belinda Blair whose comic timing was completely on point.  

While "Noises Off" thrives on its slapstick comedy and physical humour, it's also a testament to the art of live theatre itself. The play-within-a-play concept highlights the intricate dance between performers, crew, and audience, reminding us that what goes on backstage is often as fascinating and entertaining as what happens on stage.

The set design by Simon Higlett was fantastic, allowing for seamless transitions between front-of-house and backstage scenes. The revolving set, brilliantly utilised during scene changes, added an extra layer of hilarity as characters tried to maintain their composure while navigating the set's complexities.

In conclusion, "Noises Off" is an uproarious rollercoaster of laughter that offers a glimpse into the unpredictable world of theatre production. Michael Frayn's brilliant writing, coupled with a dedicated cast and expert direction by Lindsay Posner, creates a theatrical experience that is nothing short of side-splitting. If you're in need of an evening filled with unbridled joy and aching cheeks from smiling, "Noises Off" is an absolute must-see.

This show was reviewed on the 29th August 2023 at Birmingham REP.  "Noises Off" runs until the 9th September 2023.  Tickets available here: Noises Off | Birmingham Rep (birmingham-rep.co.uk)

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Photo credit: Pamela Raith

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