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Friday, 23 December 2011

Noises Off, Old Vic, Waterloo

Halfway through the performance I looked around - the audience, panting and wheezing, were delirious with laughter, it was hilarity beyond anything I have ever before witnessed at the theatre. I was at the press night for Noises Off, the very clever and very funny play by Michael Frayn. It was first performed in 1982 but feels fresh and exciting in this sparky revival. Having seen some of director Lindsay Posner’s previous work, I am not surprised to see him produce another hit show.

Noises Off is a play within a play, a small dysfunctional cast are putting the final touches to their production of ‘Nothing On’, a farcical comedy. The group are a mix of theatrical types including an unreliable boozer, a clueless young girl, a worrier who needs reassurance every line, and the infuriated director. Gossip is circulated while the cast rehearse the first act, the day before opening night. As the evening progresses, everything unravels and the situation becomes more and more disorderly and ridiculous. Frayn’s script is genius and comes across very naturally on stage, it is fast paced and fluent, Frayn seems to understand this kind of chaos and the piece never loses momentum.

The production is brilliantly executed, and rehearsed to within an inch of its life, each cast member giving a staggeringly precise and perfect performance, the actors are faultless. I recognised most of the faces: Robert Glenister, who I remember well from TV series ‘Hustle,' is fabulously exasperated as the stressed out director. Celia Imrie is wonderful as ever, fully immersing herself in the ditzy part of Dotty Otley. But the real highlight performance for me comes from Jamie Glover who excels in every comic conundrum, he manages to jump up the stairs with his shoelaces tied together!

Don’t blink or you may miss a moment of humour, Noises Off is honestly a laugh a second, and I felt exhausted by the final curtain. ‘Tis the season to be jolly in London… along with One Man Two Guvnors, our capital city is boasting the best crop of comic plays ever.

Continues until 10 March, 2012, book here.

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