Noises Off at Birmingham Rep Review

Noises Off at Birmingham Rep Review


Posted 2023-08-30 by dpmfollow

Wed 23 Aug 2023 - Sat 09 Sep 2023

Michael Frayn’s comedic romp about a touring theatre company attempting to stage a farce but discovering events behind the scenes are crazier than on stage may be more than four decades old but it can still raise many a laugh from an appreciative audience.

First staged in 1982, Noises Off follows a group of actors whose relationships, and acting, disintegrate as the tour progresses. Showing the audience what is happening both on and off-stage, the show descends into chaos.

A stellar cast bring this Theatre Royal Bath Production to the stage at Birmingham Rep. Liza Goddard is Dotty who has invested her money in the tour and has high hopes of success. We initially see her attempting, and failing, to learn her lines at the final dress rehearsal – never a good sign! Goddard has just the right measure of gentle bewilderment to carry through both of her characters.

Simon Shepherd plays the lothario director Lloyd who has bewitched two of the young women involved in the show with inevitable consequences. Initially standing in the Rep auditorium attempting to direct, Lloyd quickly becomes subsumed in the mayhem on stage. Shepherd gives us an interplay of authority and despair as the thespian who should really be directing Shakespeare. Although it has to be said that in the age of #metoo , there is something a little uncomfortable about the jokes regarding an authority figure seducing young women.
Leading man Garry, played by Dan Fredenburgh, and his love interest Brooke, played by Lisa Ambalavanar, do much of the rushing around, falling downstairs, appearing and disappearing through doors and attempting to keep the show on the road despite all the problems. Their comic timing and energy are a feat to behold.

Birmingham Rep favourite Matthew Kelly gives a cheeky performance as the drunken Selsdon, muddling his way around the show, and sneaking a quick drink here and there. Kelly’s mischievous grin whenever he spies a bottle is a running gag throughout the show.
Simon Coates brings us a well-meaning but dim Frederick who can only manage his role once he’s found the deeper meaning and Lucy Robinson is the eternal optimist Belinda, who attempts to hold the tour and the cast together.

And Daniel Rainford’s stage manager Tim and assistant Poppy, played by Nikhita Lesler, are the ones attempting to manage a cast and show which have clearly escaped their grasp. The moments in which they double-up on announcements to the audience are great fun.

Directed by Lindsay Posner, the production has just the right amount of comic pace so that the next joke hits before we’ve had time to recover from the last one. What begins slowly with an elongated scene about a plate of sardines becomes a fast and furious chase around the stage.
Simon Higlett’s design takes us onstage, offstage and then back to the final curtain with ease and is a plethora of doors, staircases and props that can suddenly morph from mundane pieces of scenery into classic comedy moments.

Frayn’s show has gone on to spark many a play within a play comedy and it’s easy to see why. The device works on so many fronts – not least because we all love to think we know what’s really going on behind the scenes. But it does depend on solid performances from its cast – this kind of quick comedy only works when it’s done well. And this cast ensures the show is a lively peek behind the curtain.


!date 23/8/2023 -- 9/9/2023
262248 - 2023-08-30 07:23:59


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