Lyric Hammersmith (venue)
03 July 2019 (released)
05 July 2019
‘Noises Off’ by Michael Frayn is currently being performed at the Lyric, Hammersmith, the theatre where it made its debut, thirty seven years ago. It is perhaps the iconic farce or meta-farce of our time. The appeal is universal and seemingly ageless. Based on the simple but brilliant notion of the "strictly ordered disorder of a farce on stage, being overrun by the real disorder of the actors’ lives off….”
The first act shows the disastrous technical rehearsal of the farce ‘Nothing On’ which the company are about to take on tour whilst the second act reveals the mayhem concealed backstage during an actual performance on tour. Finally we are the paying audience watching the total meltdown of the performance from our seats.
Jeremy Herrin gets the best from his strong cast of nine. Lloyd Owen makes a convincing impression as the play’s director with a complicated love life and delivers his lines with luvvy aplomb. Debra Gillett as Belinda Blair shines as she attempts to hold things together as best she can and Jonathan Cullen is delightful as he looks for rational explanations for inexplicable stage directions. Daniel Rigby however surely deserves praise not only for his impeccable inarticulacy but also for his heroic tumble in the last act. The others Lois Chimimba (Poppy), Amy Morgan-Brooke Ashton, Enyi Okoronkwo (Tim), Simon Rouse (Selsdon) and lastly Meera Syal (Dotty) are all superb
The only criticism I would make is the overuse of the plate of sardines. Was I alone in finding it laboured and not funny? The manipulation of the whisky bottle was in contrast subtle, deft and amusing.
The cleverness and comedy of the play emerges as it progresses and it is a tribute both to the writing and the new direction that it still causes belly laughs and tears. If you haven’t seen Noises Off before I recommend it as a wonderful evening of clever silliness and fun. If like me you saw it over twenty years ago, go again and discover that this play is as enjoyable as you remembered and the production as slick.