This show is a complete and utter disaster from start to finish. The actors miss their entrances and their lines are all over the place. They seem to have no idea what they are doing. A male director is constantly disrupting the evening by shouting out from the auditorium. At one point he even drowned out a sweet rustler. That bad. Props seem to be going missing right left and centre. If the débâcle wasn’t quite so devilishly entertaining this reviewer would have left well before the interval. Frankly, well… there is no other way of putting it… Noises Off is a farce!
And a glorious – uproariously funny – night at Nottingham Playhouse it all it is. Michael Frayn’s enormously popular farcical comedy Noises Off is playing until 30th April. Now is the time to treat yourselves to some tickets because they aren’t going to be around for long. We at East Midlands Theatre.com predict this cracking show to be a sell out.
Beautifully directed by Blanche McIntyre Noises Off is comedy bliss and without absolutely perfect comic timing this farce can run the risk of being seriously bad. There are no worries on that score from this exemplary cast. Their comic timing is so ‘on the nail’ that it is an absolute joy to watch.
It all gets tad confusing for us poor reviewers as each real actor plays a pretend actor character playing another comedy character in a pretend farce. In the first act we witness a stressed out cast rehearsing a dress rehearsal/technical at one in the morning and they open for their first night later that day. In the second act we see the play from the backstage part way through the company tour and disaster upon disaster comically unfolds. In the third act… well it is best you see it and bring along plenty of tissues to wipe away the tears of laughter. Any audience member with incontinence issues should be prepared beforehand. Lovers of sardines should be fore-warned of sardine abuse on stage but we reviewers have been assured that no real sardines have been/or will be harmed during the making and run of this show. A fishy story if ever we heard one.
Actors Carla Mendonça, (Dotty) Sophia Nomvete, (Brooke) Orlando Wells, (Lloyd) Patrick Osborne, (Garry) Brian Lonsdale, (Tim) Becci Gemmell, (Belinda) John Elkington, (Frederick) Robin Bowerman (Selsdon) and Ritu Arya (Poppy) are all uniformly brilliant in their multiple roles. Carla Mendonça should be aware that her character Mrs Clacket seems to have caused a copycat trend in the interval of female audience members copying her daft angled walk and poses. Thankfully no men drop their trousers in the public foyer copying the marvellous John Elkington’s antics.
The terrific set design by Robert Innes Hopkins is a revelation especially the backstage element. It really does look like one is viewing a real backstage space. This is helped by Jason Taylor’s lighting design and the work of sound designer George Dennis.
The Nottingham Playhouse actual real life backstage crew led by stage manager Jane (I got a mention) Eliot-Webb have their work cut out at the end of the evening collecting up all the hundreds of props that litter the stage. Fight director Philip D’Orléans is also to be commended on his work with the many comical fights and tussles that occur during the show.
Noises Off at Nottingham Playhouse is one of the best evenings this reviewer has enjoyed at this theatre so far. It is testament to Frayn’s writing, the comic direction by Blanche McIntyre, the actors skills and timing and several plates of sardines that we at East Midlands Theatre.com can highly recommend this show.
Photos credit: Robert Day
Reviewer: Phil Lowe
Phil Lowe also writes for the quarterly theatre magazine – Sardines.