Expertly directed by the award-winning Blanche McIntyre, Noises Off is a shambolic and riotous production. Doors and sardines, the loss of trousers, a handy bit of axe work and legendary comic writing combine to create this hilarious farce.
Following the antics of the cast of ‘Nothing On’, the audience are treated to a behind the scenes glimpse into the theatrical world, from the excruciating final rehearsal to backstage during the run, before culminating in the predictably disastrous final show. The actors’ lives, and those of the characters they play become irrevocably intertwined, as relationships are formed and broken, lines are forgotten and sardines are (not) eaten.
“The set was also fantastically complex”
First and foremost, the cast were outstanding. With not a weak link among them, each actor provided their own comic moments and made their character their own. Particular stand outs were John Elkington as Frederick Fellowes, whose detestation of violence led to numerous funny moments, Brian Lonsdale as a resigned Tim, general dogsbody and generally sleepy, and the fantastic Sophia Nomvete who not only gave a fantastic comic performance, but had the balls to wear her underwear throughout ninety-five percent of the show!
The set was also fantastically complex, with the audience being able to see both onstage and backstage, as the set was rotated for the second act. Robert Innes Hopkins should be proud of this innovative and effective design, which was one of the best I’ve ever seen in a theatrical production.
It is impossible to pick out a favourite scene from the numerous outstanding moments in this production, but the mimed conflict between the cast backstage whilst having to rush on to perform their lines has to be one of the best. As the various relationships, infighting and problems between the cast made themselves known, the actors’ skill in executing the carefully choreographed sequence of events, especially whilst swinging an axe led to resounding applause from the audience, who were in hysterics throughout. Special praise must go in this scene to Orlando Wells playing the role of Lloyd, the show’s director, whose entrances and romantic entanglements became increasingly dramatic!
“It is impossible to pick out a favourite scene from the numerous outstanding moments in this production”
Another memorable moment was at the conclusion of the second act, where myself, and most of the audience believed the show was over. The auditorium lights came on…and off…and on again; the curtain was down….and up….and down again, whiskey bottles appeared and disappeared again, before the curtain was finally raised to witness the pitiful remains of ‘Nothing On’ at the very end of its run. With cast members falling down the stairs, entering at the wrong time, the same character represented three times, before concluding with the (literal) fall of the curtain, Noises Off was certainly a show to remember.
I have no qualms in stating that this is truly one of the funniest, most entertaining pieces of theatre I have seen in a long time, a notion the rest of the audience shared, which was evidenced in the actors’ three ovations! For light-hearted comic fun, and regional theatre at its finest, I would advise everyone reading this to go and see this wonderful production – in my opinion, one of the Nottingham Playhouse’s finest.
‘Noises Off’ is running at the Nottingham Playhouse until Saturday 30th April. For more information and to book tickets, see here.