Noises Off – Norwich Theatre Royal
Billed as one of the greatest British comedies ever written this play is packed with fast paced entertainment and laughter.
Also billed as a ‘play within a play’ although in truth we only see one scene rather than a complete play. We get to watch the touring cast perform the same scene three times but each time it is hilariously different.
The first time is the dress rehearsal, it’s running late and there is only a few hours before the opening night in Weston-Super-Mare. The cast are still getting to grips with their lines and making suggestions to the director who is increasingly becoming exasperated, but it looks like a funny comedy play with plenty of doors, antics, hilarity and sardines.
The second time is from behind the scenes at Ashton-Under-Lyne, mid-way through the tour as the cast are starting to annoy each other, affairs are coming to ahead, actors refusing to come out of the dressing room and the drinker on set is drinking far more than normal. It’s very funny.
Due to the back stage antics, arguments, fights and general mayhem the cast take out the wrong props on stage and have to attempt to improvise, or failing that stick to the script and hope no one notices. What was even more funny with this one, due to being back stage, the cast had to mime and use hand gestures to communicate with each other considering the play was going on and they had to be silent.
The third time we see this scene, it is the final performance of the tour in Stockton-on-Tees and the cast are worn out, dishevelled, injured, and can hardly remember what line goes where and due to even more chaos and confusion the understudy comes out at the wrong times. It’s a total disaster but they carry on regardless as they are professionals.
Noises Off is start to finish silly humour, which can produce some of the best giggles. The comedy timing for a big cast was incredible and very clever as they all made it look so easy. They were running around through the doors, up and down the stairs, or even falling down the stairs, it was very physical and exceptionally well-choregraphed. Even if you could second guess some of the antics, it was still funny as the actors were brilliant.
There are so many elements to the show to keep you constantly entertained it really is filled to the brim with farcical jokes, practical jokes, silly jokes, physical comedy, over acting, under acting.. everything and with an actual storyline to keep you fully engaged.
The top class cast were fantastic:
Liza Goddard as Dotty Otley
Matthew Kelly as Selsdon Mowbray
Simon Shepherd as Lloyd Dallas.
Simon Coates as Frederick Fellowes
Lucy Robinson as Belinda Blair
Daniel Rainford as Tim Allgood
Dan Fredenburgh as Garry Lejeune
Lisa Ambalavanar as Brooke Ashton
Nikhita Lesler as Poppy Norton-Taylor
Highly recommended for an evening of laughter and a feast for the eyes.