Sharon Cain, Time for Life Correspondent
Noises Off - A Ridiculous, Riotous, Romp
Fabulous farce: from left Lisa Goddard, Dan Fredenburgh, Simon Coates. Photo Pamela Raith.
True farce is defined by ludicrous situations, stereotyped characters, extravagant exaggeration - not to mention hilarious horseplay.
Author Michael’s Frayn’s 40th anniversary of the multi award-winning farce, Noises Off
ticks all the boxes as ‘the play within a play’ deteriorates from the ridiculous to the utterly shambolic.
A relatively slow start sees the beleaguered performers on their tour of Nothing On
woefully under prepared during its final rehearsal at Weston-Super-Mare.
Dotty in name and nature played by Liza Goddard. Photo Pamela Raith.
From the outset the audience is under no illusion that ‘it will be all right on the night’ as housekeeper Dotty Otley, played by Liza Goddard, beautifully lives up to her stage name.
Interrupted frequently by Simon Shepherd as director Lloyd Dallas, she constantly forgets her plates of sardines, an all-encompassing theme, at the house she looks after while its tax exile owners are in Spain.
Raucous romp: Brooke Ashton and Dan Fredenburgh. Photo Pamela Raith.
The pace picks up as estate agent Garry Lejeune (Dan Fredenburgh) and his scantily clad assistant Vicki (Brooke Ashton) descend on the house at the same time as owners Philip and Flavia Brent play a flying visit to celebrate their wedding anniversary.
High spirits: Matthew Kelly as Selsdon Mowbray. Photo Pamela Raith.
Throw into the mix Matthew Kelly as Selsdon Mowbray, an aging actor more than fond of a tipple who consistently forgets his entrance and requires regular prompting by Nikhita Lesler playing Poppy Norton-Taylor.
The turmoil accelerates in the cast’s Ashton-Under-Lyne matinee – witnessed by the audience from backstage – where performers unsuccessfully try to hide bottles of whisky from Selsdon Mowbray.
Descending into chaos: Liza Goddard, Simon Shepherd, Belinda Blair.
Photo Pamela Raith.
Staggering, literally, to its final show and ultimate demise at Stockton-Upon-Tees, the performers, director and understudy have completely lost the plot and are high as kites on scotch.
Their lines are replaced by nonsensical and highly entertaining improvisation as they hurl themselves up and down stairs and in and out of doors and windows with breathless, breakneck speed.
The plot unravels: Lucy Robinson, Dan Fredenburgh, Liza Goddard. Photo Pamela Raith.
Doomed before the curtain rises, this raucous racket dishes up a delicious hat trick of fabulous failures, imbuing warmth and laughter into a chilly autumn evening.
plays at Newcastle Theatre Royal until Saturday, Sep 16, 2023. Visit www.theatreroyal.co.uk
or call 0191 232 7010. It is also appearing at the following venues:
Blackpool Grand, October 3 - October 7,
Salford, The Lowry, October 17 - October 21
York Theatre Royal, October 31 - November 4,
Sheffield Lyceum, November 28 – December 2