Noises Off! | Chichester Festival Theatre | Review

Noises Off!
Chichester Festival Theatre

Straight from the West End this production of Noises Off (Theatre Royal Bath in association with Birmingham Rep) is currently playing at Chichester Festival Theatre. Written by Michael Frayn over 40 years ago, this hilarious farce-within-a-farce is still an extremely entertaining side-splitting romp. All the classic ingredients are present from multiple well-timed door- slamming to the inevitable dropped trousers along with the unexplained but continual need for a plate of sardines!

The play opens with a second-rate touring theatre company’s chaotic final rehearsal of Nothing On. The exasperated director attempts to cajole his shambolic troupe into being ready for the opening show in just a matter of hours! Act II sees the stage reversed and while Nothing On continues, this time the focus is on the deteriorating relationships between the cast and crew’s interaction back stage. While Act III returns to the tour several weeks later and up to the disastrous final curtain call.

Director Lindsay Posner and set designer Simon Higlett have excelled with this country house setting two storey and double-sided set, giving ample scope for the varied antics up and down the stairs. The talented cast of nine include Liza Goddard (Dotty Otley) playing the confused housekeeper never sure if the plate of sardines should be carried on or off the stage, and Lucy Robinson (Belinda Blair) who shines in her role with such well-timed, flamboyant entrances and exits. Simon Shepherd is first-class, inhabiting the character of frustrated director Lloyd Dallas not only trying to hold the show together but also the tension in his backstage liaisons, and not forgetting too the often absent and wayward alcoholic frequently missing his calls to the stage! My personal award however goes to Dan Fredenburgh (Gary Lejeune) for the staggering skill, timing and energy he brings to the stage. He totally masters the escalating panic as the frantic shenanigans backstage spill over to the continuing Nothing On.

The capacity audience were treated to comedy bliss – a performance of huge skill, shot through with humour by this dynamic ensemble.


Reviewer: Jill Lawrie