Are you a fan of A Play That Goes Wrong? If so, you need to get yourself a ticket to Noises Off. It’s the original, farcical British comedy about a play that well and truly goes belly up.
Performed in three sections over two acts, we see a less than ready technical rehearsal, the heated backstage antics and front facing failure of all failures.
During rehearsal, Lloyd’s patience is being tested as he tries to direct this palava of a play. He’s contending with Dotty who keeps forgetting stage directions, Garry who’s incapable of speaking an unscripted sentence and half deaf, alcoholic Selsdon. Whilst also trying to manage oblivious Brooke, hesitant Freddy and thankfully, quite reliable, Belinda. All without the help of his sensitive stagehand, Poppy and utterly exhausted Stage Manager, Tim.
This first act sets the scene, introduces the flawed characters and hints to intricate relationships.
Onto the messy matinee
In Act Two we see the show from a behind the scenes perspective. The only dialogue comes from the now familiar play, which we can partially see through the set. The focus is on the mistakes and misfortunes hilariously mimed backstage.
But what’s even better is the cast relationships have evolved. So romantic rifts, rivalries and fights break out creating silent chaos. It’s hard to know where to look as it’s so complex and intertwined with the onstage action. It’s genius. The final act follows the production at the end its tour, where it’s starkly obvious the actors and set have given up hope.
The stellar cast, that includes TV stars, Meera Syal, famous for Goodness Gracious Me and Sarah Hadland, best known for Miranda, all nail their performances. The fast pace production must literally take the companies breath away as well as test their memories with such intricate dialogue and choreography.
Noises off is clever, quick witted and well organised comic chaos. Pure entertainment. I actually preferred it to A Play That Goes Wrong, but don’t tell them that.
Noises Off plays at Garrick Theatre until 4 January. Book tickets here.
Check out my Play That Goes Wrong review.