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Noises off artwork

all about theatre five star review

Noises Off is a comedy Farce by playwright Michael Frayn, it premiered in London in 1982 at the Lyric Theatre Hammersmith and later transferred to the Savoy theatre in the West End and won an Evening Standard Award for Best Comedy. The play is currently touring the UK after a sell-out West End run, I was invited to review Noises Off on it's stop at The Lowry in Salford.

Noises Off production photo

The premise of the show is that its a play within a play as we see a touring theatre company chaotically put on a production of the fictional face "Nothing On". The show is in three acts, act one shows the technical rehearsal of "Nothing On" at the Grand Theatre in Weston-Super-Mare which is happening very late the night before the first performance. The cast are shockingly unprepared, they are missing cues & messing up lines much to the dismay of their director Lloyd Dallas (Simon Shepherd). Act 2 is set one month later at a matinee performance in Ashton-under-Lyne, this time we see the backstage antics of the cast and how the relationships between them have started to deteriorate. Within the cast we see bickering, lovers tiffs & romantic rivalries which ends up causing havoc on stage. Act 3 shows a performance which is happening near the end of the shows run, at the Municipal theatre in Stockton-on-Tees. The relationships within the cast are now severely frayed, the set is starting to fall apart, props are getting mislaid and everything is going terrible wrong. The chaos on stage gets so bad that the plot has to be abandoned and the remaining sound members of the cast start ad-libbing in order to make it to the end of the performance.

Noises Off production photo

Noises off has a great ensemble cast who all work fantastically together to make the show so hilariously funny. Playing Lloyd Dallas we have Simon Shepherd who delivers a great performance as the frustrated and temperamental director, who is caught in a love triangle with stage manager poppy and young actress Brook Ashton. Liza Goddard brings poignancy and warmth to the character of Dotty Otley, Dotty is a middle aged actress dating fellow cast member Garry Lejeune who is much younger than her. Dan Fredenburgh brings great physical comedy and excellent comic timing to his character Garry Lejeune, Garry is the leading man and Jealous lover of Dotty. Lisa Ambalavanar delivers a strong performance as young actress Brook Ashton, she has great stage presence and her comic timing was perfect. Nikhita Lesler plays the over-sensitive stage manager Poppy Norton-Taylor, Nikhita really makes you feel for poor poppy who is dismissed by lover Lloyd when young Actress Brook takes an interest in him. Simon Coats was hilarious as dim-witted Federick Fellows the actor with a fear of violence and blood both of which cause his nose to bleed. Coats's comic timing was spot on making the nose bleed scenes so funny.

Lucy Robinson really brings some depth to the character of Belinda Blair, Belinda is one of the more sensible cast members but is also a bit of a gossip. Daniel Rainford is great as the over worked Tim Allgood, Tim is stage manager (along with Poppy) he is also the understudy for the male roles and is responsible for putting up and fixing the set. Mathew Kelly is Selsdon Mowbray an elderly actor who is half-deaf and has a bit of a drinking problem, Kelly's facial expressions along with his excellent comic timing made the scenes with Selsdon some of the best scenes in the play.

Noises Off production photo

The set designed by Simon Higlett was fantastic it depicted a two story house, with multiple opening doors, a staircase, landing and large living room complete with sofa, TV Stand and side tables. The best part about the set is that for act two it gets turned around and we get to see the detailed back stage area. The back stage area has two stories with two staircases leading up to a landing area. The ground floor area is scattered with chairs for the cast to sit on when they are not on stage and we can see a door marked dressing rooms on the right hand side of the stage and another marked exit on the left hand side of the stage. We also see a little desk area next to the exit where stage manager Poppy sits to make here announcements. Visually the set looked very impressive and allowed for some great moments of slapstick and physical comedy.

Noises Off production photo

I have to admit I found act one a little slow and by the interval I wasn't sure if this show was for me however the pace really picked up in the second act and I was laughing all the way to the end of the show. Noises Off is a lot of fun it's a very cleverly written play, its witty with lots of slapstick and physical comedy and is performed by a cast of highly skilled actor who will have you laughing out loud.

Noises Off is on at The Lowry until Saturday 21st October, you can purchase tickets by clicking on the button below.

Photo Credit - Pamela Raith

*Our tickets for this show were kindly gifted in exchange for an honest review


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