REVIEW: Noises Off @ Theatre Royal Brighton

October 19, 2022

Noises Off

Theatre Royal Brighton

This rather sweet 40th anniversary production of Michael Frayn’s play-within-a-play farce, directed by Lindsay Posner gave the appreciative audience exactly what they wanted last night, Theatre Royal Baths’ production offering up Felicity Kendal, Jonathan Coy, Matthew Kelly and Tracy-Ann Oberman and a brilliant supporting cast as they stumble their way through the fictional farce, Nothing On

The tightly planned, clockwork action of the farce, building on layers of interaction and repetition has a meditative quality to it as it speeds up and at the same time appears to be going wildly out of control. This delightfully ominous change of tempo, ever faster -ever madder -offering the cast some stand out physical comedy, which are grasped with gusto but also taxes the narrative to keep up unless we really know and care for the characters.

The cast is a delight, each playing a cliched theatrical type but with warmth and lived experience showing through, it feels shabby, slightly down at heel, doing the provincial theatrical tours, frayed egos and making do just as it’s supposed to.  The musty Rep company reproduced well which allows the comedy to build to its raucous thunderous climaxes.  We get to see the play within a play three times, from different perspectives, literally from backstage ( as the play goes on out-front) and finally almost at the end of it’s run when the fraying of temperament, backstage rivalry, relationships and cabin fever play out in a frenzy of misunderstanding and farcical violence.  It’s consistently funny, brilliantly so at times and had the added addition of a small set failure which only added to the delight of the audience as the cast improvised their way around it. Wonderful.

It’s in three acts, the second slightly long and endlessly frenetic but perhaps that’s part of it’s charm, breathless action smashes across the stage but a lack of connection with the characters, them being played more for clichéd excitement than for understanding of motive made the silent gurning, hand gestures and cartoon violence less a essay in mounting desperation and more an experience in clowning, either way the audience loved it.

The cast is perfect, each pulling out, putting out and keeping up with the ever-increasing rhythm of the daft plot.  Bringing to life the fragile egos and frantic needs of a group of jobbing actors on tour, knowing the play they’re working on is falling apart in front of their eyes.

Full list of cast and creatives on this link here

This was my first time watching Noises Off and it made me laugh out loud at some seriously absurd lines and although impressed by the physically manic clowning on stage it was the relentlessly mangled absurdist lines which brought out the bigger laughs with me.

The audience absolutely adored it, not bad for a play pulling it’s fourth decade.

Until Sat 23rd October 

For more info or to book tickets follow this link to the Theatre Royal Brighton’ website: