THEATRE REVIEW: Noises Off ★★★★
Garrick Theatre, London
Friday 27th September 2019 - Saturday 4th November 2020
Before it’s hugely successful run at The Lyric Hammersmith earlier this year, the last time Michael Frayn’s Noises Off graced the stage was in at The Old Vic in 2011. If you were not aware of why it’s hugely successful premise took so long to come back to London, you’d only have to read the three act play to understand just how only someone like Jeremy Herrin, whose directed this take on one of the most successful farces in our lifetime, can dedicate their time to bring this epic back to the masses, with huge triumph.
Having the inspiration come to mind when Frayn was watching a performance of his 1970 play ‘The Two of Us’ from the wings, Noises Off tells the story of an amaetur theatrical company putting on the production ‘Nothing On’ at The Grand Theatre, Weston Super-Mare. It’s the day of the technical rehearsal as the play opens and Dotty Otley (Meera Syal) is continually forgetting her lines and stage directions, with director Lloyd Dallas (Lloyd Owen) becoming more frustrated. It’s from this moment that we are propelled into this comical world of huge realism and nostalgia for anyone who has worked within the industry and can feel the dissatisfaction and pain from the internal company, ranging from missed cues, to elusive actors, and showmances, in which Noises Off presents with huge exaggeration won over by the audience.
With a rather horrendous first act bringing the company to their knees, It’s Act Two, often known as the most famous part of any of Frayn’s work, that really ups the stakes. Having turned the complete set around, and we watch like a fly on the wall from backstage, the company are now half way through their run of presenting their sex farce to their audience in Weston. Sarah Hadland and Richard Henders are equally lively as Belinda Blair and Fredick Fellowes, bringing their counterparts Flavia and Philip joyfully on stage as one of the couples who make ‘Nothing On’ excruciating, something which can only be a testament to the companies comic timing. Lloyd Owen brings gusto and natural realism to LLoyd Dallas, effortlessly slipping into the role and bringing the character to life thanks to Max Jones’ formidable Costume and Set Design, which alone could be presented on stage in itself and produce a standing ovation, where no spark of an idea has been left unturned.
Making up the rest of the cast, Lisa McGrillis and Daniel Rigby bring the whole house down with masterful performances and a real journey of emotions and gradual distaste for their fellow peers as Brooke Ashton and and Garry Lejeune. Anjii Mohindra and Adrian Richards bring stage managers Poppy and Tim expertly to life, with a buddying and complicated romance blossoming, and a bunch of flowers in the second act causing travisty. Simon Rouse rounds up the company as the elusive, and quite delirious, Selsdon Mowbray, who understandably can never be found at the right time, but always causing chaos at the wrong time.
Overall, Noises Off is a production which should excite any theatrical enthusiastic who works within the industry, as they are the audience who will ultimately relate to this farcistal being presented on stage. The whole production feels like a gifted piece of theatre which has been away from the West End for far too long, and that’s why it feels such a privilege to be able to see Michaek Frayn’s creation exactly where it belongs, with a stunning cast who present this version which such admiration.