NOISES OFF till 5 June

NOISES OFF: Michael Frayne
Birmingham Rep
Runs: 2h 35m, till 5 June, one interval
Review: Rod Dungate, 19 06 2010

Let your hair down and have a laugh
NOISES OFF is a play in which a group of performers presents a farce about a group of performers presenting a farce. Hugely successful for Michael Frayne, in this Rep production the audience (most of them) fall about in stitches.

Frayne’s play is excellently plotted – full of all the tricks and turmoils you’d expect in a farce, including somersaults, trips, prat-falls and tumblings down stairs. Director Ian Talbot ensures a rapid pace and the whole company acts with great commitment and comic timing. It’s like a masterclass in a great British tradition.

And therein lies, also, its weakness. There’s no central character here who gets in a mess and who we worry about, no plummet into chaos with order restored. Or to put it another way, there’s no real story to underpin the action with tension, nor any character, while they amuse me, I really care about. The play is a mighty shiny exterior but nothing inside; it feels like a good idea for a sketch that’s too extended.

Having got that off my chest . . . this truly is an excellent production. The strong ensemble feel is a joy with not a glimmer of weakness in any performance and the anarchic feeling of dottiness a great release in our dour times.

Frederick Fellowes: Edward Baker-Duly
Timothy Allgood: Gerard Carey
Dotty Otley: Brigit Forsyth
Garry Lejeune: Andrew Havill
Selsdon Mowbray: Ian Lindsay
Belinda Blair: annette McLaughlin
Lloyd dallas: Brian Prothero
Brooke Ashton: Djalenga Scott
Poppy Norton-Taylor: Louise Shuttleworth

Director: Ian Talbot
Designer: Paul Farnsworth
Lighting Designer: Jason Taylor
Sound Designer: Dan Hoole
Fight Director: Terry King
Casting Director: Sarah Hughes
Assistant Director: Amanda Collins

2010-05-21 16:39:18

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