DISCLOSURE – TICKETS TO SEE THE SHOW WERE GIFTED TO THE REVIEWER AND GUEST FOR THE PURPOSES OF WRITING THE REVIEW
Reviewed by Joy Wright
Michael Frayn’s production Noises Off is at the Lyceum Theatre this week, still going strong 40 years after it was written and still entertaining audiences through fabulous farce with impeccable comedic timing and intricately layered chaos.
Noises Off ran for 8 weeks in London’s West End earlier this year, showcasing this capable cast and the quality of writing which has reached across the years. It seems the playwright conceived this idea in 1970 whilst watching Vanessa Redgrave from backstage whilst she worked in another show he had written. A first hand view of the madness of backstage theatre.
Noises Off is essentially a metadrama, a play within play. The production within is Nothing On, by Robin Housemonger, a production plagued by issues and problems which all centre around the cast. Noises Off is the catastrophic concoction to delight the theatre goer with a night of laughter.
The production begins at some relative pace with quips and gags threaded throughout and it is gently amusing whilst slowly gathering momentum. Moving into parts two and three the production seems to have achieved lift-off and the cracks and pratfalls are coming thick and fast. Yet this is nothing compared the end of the production where there is so much happening on stage it is difficult to know where to look for the best part of the action.
The construction of this script is deceptively clever, a true work of comedy and a challenge for the performers who work through the first act meticulously portraying disaster after disaster with precision. It’s brilliant.
Every form of farcical physical comedy and performance can be seen here, misunderstandings, stunts, pantomime, timing and energy.
Whilst Noises Off is a farce I feel this will appeal to a wide audience. In its form as theatre it is a hugely entertaining and engaging night out. For those who have ever been involved in producing or performing in theatre it is a comedic lens into the challenges and peculiarities of theatre.
The set design is especially valuable in this production, a detailed and dynamic creation which is crucial to the plot.
You’ll recognise some of the cast, most famously Matthew Kelly who joins the cast with a somewhat slapstick role, no surprise given his amiable appearances over many years and he’s still funny with his enormously expressive face.
Simon Shepherd is well known from many television series and productions, often within dramas. Here he is most beleaguered and desperate, a superb foil.
My favourite was Daniel Rainford, his nervous noises made me giggle every time in his role as Tim Allgood, an overworked and under appreciated stage tech pulled in every direction.
Be aware this is a production for over 12’s because of the partial nudity and a few other sensitivity warnings, but definitely a giggle for the grown ups.
You can buy tickets for this production, and I advise you do, for a laugh out loud evening of entertainment. You’ll find them at the box office, by telephone on 0114 249 6000 or online at https://www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk/events/noises-off and there’s a trailer if there’s any doubt left in your mind.
The production runs until 2nd December and tickets are priced £15.00 to £45.50.