My response to this new revival of Noises Off is one of indifference. I fully acknowledge that I am probably isolated in my view as everyone else in the audience seemed to have enjoyed it, judging by their non-stop laughter. I must have chuckled a few times, but that was about it. To me, this play is dated and, in this respect, it reminded me of Alan Ayckbourn’s Bedroom Farce .
It’s a play about a play and in the opening scene, we see a dress rehearsal and it becomes apparent that the cast is not quite ready as they should be for such a rehearsal. Cue wrong stage directions and the forgetting of lines resulting in slapstick comedy. As the rehearsal goes on, we begin to find out a little more about the cast and crew, namely who is sleeping with whom. But, just like the director’s instructions, the jokes become repetitive and they soon wear thin. Act II opens with a bit more promise where the set design has been turned 180 degrees with the backstage visible to the audience which allows us to see some of the cast members in meltdown while the play goes on. This is a clever piece of engineering as we get to witness both the ‘onstage’ and ‘backstage’ events. But again, the jokes and the slapstick stage directions sound and look weary after a while. In Act III, the set design is reversed and this time the play ‘onstage’ breaks down as cast members get their lines mixed up and mayhem ensues but the show must go on and indeed it does. But sadly, the jokes don’t get any better.
The cast gives us a terrifically energetic performance in this play which is physically demanding. Their timing is absolutely precise as it should be even if they give us the impression that they’re muddling along. But, ultimately, this play isn’t my cup of tea.
Until 10 March 2012.
Performance time: approximately 2.5 hours with an interval.
Written by Michael Frayn.
Directed by Lindsay Posner.