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Live! - Culture

Noises Off

Mar 16 2005 13:46
Ruth Davies
Monday 14th March was the first night of DramSoc?s latest play, ?Noises Off? by Michael Frayn.
Sardines feature in this play also...

Since winning the 1982 London Evening Standard Award for Best Comedy, ?Noises Off? has been one of the most regularly performed plays both by professional and amateur companies all over the world. Noises off is theatre jargon for a commotion off stage but this play describes the way the commotion off stage is carried on to the stage by a company of ?has-been? and ?never-were? actors putting on a touring production of a farce called ?Nothing On?.

The first act is at the dress rehearsal for ?Nothing On?. There are only hours to go before the opening performance and everything is going wrong. One actor, Dotty Otley (played by Charlotte Coales), cannot remember her entrances and exits, another, Brooke Ashton (Eline Van der Velden), seems more concerned with her appearance than the play, a third, Garry Lejune (Alex Arbuthnot) cannot remember his lines and all seem to have personal problems. The director (Duncan Pearse) is desperately trying to pull all this together while maintaining a relationship with both Brooke and the Assistant Stage Manager, Poppy (Soizic le Courtois) and the Stage Manager (Richard Chatwin) has spent all weekend without sleep putting up the set which is now ?fighting back? with jamming doors, doors that won?t close when they are meant to and general wobbles.

The second act is one month later at a performance of the play. Relationships between cast members have deteriorated and they are allowing this to carry over in to the performance. In this act the set has rotated so the audience are sitting back stage so hear the play but see the antics of the actors off stage and the attempts of the stage manager and assistant stage manager to keep the play going. Act three is at the end of the tour and we are once again out front watching the play. Now the cast?s personal problems have become the most important thing and the performance of ?Nothing On? collapses.

Farce is a particularly difficult form of theatre to carry off and this reporter was impressed by both Andr? Refig?s direction and the skill shown by all the actors. Matthew Wallace as nervous wreck Frederick Fellowes, Iain Heaton as the senile and drunkard actor Selsdon Mowbray and Lilly Topham as the ever helpful Belinda Blair were particularly brilliant.

The set (designed by Andrew Chamberlain) was also good, despite being responsible for the late start of the play on Monday evening, wobbling and threatening to collapse at any moment to add to the general on-stage chaos.

Overall this was an excellent performance and it was a shame that the audience was so small. However those that went obviously enjoyed it with laughter sufficient for a much larger audience.

?Noises Off? is showing every night until Thursday, starting at 7.30 in the Union Concert Hall and this reporter would recommend going to see it.

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Discussion about “Noises Off”

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
Mar 17 2005 00:09

97 tonight..mondays are just c**p anyway!!

Mar 17 2005 12:11

Go see it, its great!

Mar 17 2005 12:30

We apologise to the reporter for the slight delay in starting on the first night, which was due to circumstances beyond our control? I?m beginning to feel like Tim. Tonight is the last night, so come and see it.

4. Ruth   
Mar 17 2005 14:27

I am glad lots of people came last night and I hope that EVERYONE ELSE in college comes tonight. It's very good you know...

Mar 17 2005 15:00

To be honest looking at my ticket reservation chart, I think all of college is!!!

6. Ruth   
Mar 17 2005 16:57

Good. Must be my article providing you with publicity!

7. Ruth   
Mar 17 2005 16:58

You notice that I have just got you back to the top of the discussion board by posting again?

Feb 05 2007 20:43

Where did you get your set from?? We are a theatre company in Yorkshire who want to do this play but not sure where to hire the set....did you hire it or construct it yourselves?

9. Neil   
Feb 05 2007 21:03


The set was designed and built by dramsoc for the production. We may still have the designs around if you are interested in building instead of hiring.

10. joan   
Jul 13 2007 06:49

so need help in designing the set-can you help

Jul 14 2007 16:41

I was the set designer for Noises' Off. If you want to know more about the design then feel free to email me

Jul 17 2007 04:38

i would be so very grateful for any help re set

Nov 17 2008 21:02

I'm doing a performing arts course and am putting on a production of 'Noises Off' next year, we are planning set but getting stuck, the space we have is huge however our budget is not, but we are fundraising to solve this issue. do you have any ideas, contacts or websites i can visit to continue this process and create a set similar to every production of the performance. please help!

14. Eugene   
Nov 19 2008 00:23

you should get in touch with Imperial College Dramatic Society (google them) directly as they have a lot of experienced amateur set builders and tech crew

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