Forty-one years on from its first premier in 1982, Noises Off has proven to be a timeless classic.
Although it feels fresher than ever as Michael Frayn’s farce-within-a-farce makes its way onto the York Theatre Royal stage this week.
Noises Off is at York Theatre Royal from Tuesday 31 October to Saturday 4 November.
And what a production it is! The play is structured in three separate parts; act one gives us the first of these, and by the time the curtain falls for the interval we have already met the vast array of characters gracing the stage for their production of ‘Nothing On’, with chaos brewing and a pretty terrible dress rehearsal under their belt.
The audience are left with a lack of confidence for the actors involved but endless amounts of excitement for the mayhem that’s clear to continue…
Act two begins by taking us behind the scenes of the action, where we get every typical am-dram issue that can arise, like showmances, jealousy and lack of preparedness – for anyone who’s been in theatre, they will understand the heightened emotions and pure bedlam taking place that is usually hidden from sight.
Finally act three shows us their final performance at the end of the company’s tour and the less said about this the better, however you will be left breathless from the amount of laughter it will evoke.
The staging itself mirrors as an actors playground, as they run frantically from doors to sardines, sardines to doors, up the stairs, down the stairs… and so on! It was difficult to keep up, but behind every new entrance (or door for that matter), you knew you had a new layer of comedy gold to unwrap and it never once lacked energy.
Whilst a short show-stop on the night due to technical issues may seem problematic on the surface, this actually enabled the audience to see how the set transformed between the stage and backstage areas with one seemingly effortless rotation. This only confirmed the production’s popularity and success with the warm reception and celebratory cheers that could be heard throughout the theatre as the second-half continued.
Credit must be given to the fantastic production team and stage managers (Zachary Holton and Robin Turley Smith) for their exceptional work – whilst the show may be chaotic, it is organised chaos and runs so smoothly due to their efforts.
Gracing this sterling staging was the finest of talent; whilst I would usually favour performances with ease, I genuinely felt that every single actor was remarkably strong in their roles and thrived throughout.
From Simon Shepherd’s authoritative role as director Lloyd Dallas, catching audiences off guard at the start and setting the scene perfectly to Lisa Ambalavanar’s over the top, eager Brooke Ashton – who had drama following her on and off the stage.
Liza Goddard was the endearing and quirky Dotty, who’s scatter-brain nature created the most brilliant one-liners, and Simon Coates was the rather pathetic Frederick Fellowes, who managed to be either completely clueless or overthinking at all times.
Every single actor had their own standout moments and yet united so perfectly. Lindsay Posner did an excellent job at directing, and with a production so heavily focused on faultlessly timed movements and complex physical relationships we must also highlight the work of movement and fight director Ruth Cooper-Brown.
It takes an enormous amount of work to make purposeful mistakes look effortless, and the whole team have succeeded at bringing this masterpiece together.
Noises Off is nothing short of a triumph! I didn’t see a single audience member leave without a smile plastered across their face, buzzing from the joy they had just encountered.
A good slice of comedy pie is just what the doctor ordered and I urge everyone to get their fix before it’s too late – don’t miss out!
Noises Off is at York Theatre Royal until Saturday 4 November. Tickets start from £15 and are available via the York Theatre Royal website.