Sunday, 9 September 2007

Noises Off - Oldham Coliseum

Noises Off - By Michael Frayn
Oldham Coliseum – 6th – 29th September

Directed by Gwenda Hughes
Designed by Sue Condie
Reviewed by Kat Copsey – Tri-Athlete

‘Noises Off’ by Michael Frayn; first performed at the Lyric theatre, Hammersmith in 1982 tells the story of actors on tour performing a traditional sex farce, ‘Nothing On’ whilst embroiled in a farce all of their own. Act one begins with the final rehearsal before opening night at the Grand Theatre, Weston Supermare. We rejoin the cast in act two at the Theatre Royal, Ashton-Under-Lyne where the audience views the backstage happenings during the performance. The play then culminates in the final performance at the Municipal Theatre, Stockton-on-Tees during act three, where the on stage farce and the one going on backstage in the ‘real’ lives of the characters combine with disastrous consequences. The play begins as entertainingly witty and builds to a laugh-out-loud hilarious climax in the final act.

The cast is a nine strong team of faces familiar from theatre and various soap and TV appearances. All gave excellent and convincing performances; particularly memorable were the nervous mannerisms of Poppy, played by Alison Darling; and comic portrayal of a somewhat less than intelligent Brooke Ashton by Catherine Kinsella. Farce is never an easy feat to pull off and director Gwenda Hughes should be congratulated for her fine directing of this hilarious piece, where the pace steams through and never lets the audience pause for thought or breath.
The set, designed by Sue Condi depicting the living room of the Brents in ‘Nothing On’ was impressive and well constructed; the design allowing for it to be turned around during the second act for the audience to see the farse developing backstage then returned to its original position. It comprised the living room, stairs and upper hallway and included many doors which are vital to the plot. The technical side of the performance added a great atmosphere to the show, which sometimes overshadows the performances of the Actors in most modern shows, but not in this excellent production.

I would highly recommend this play for a night out of side-splittingly funny entertainment, although there is also plenty of metaphorical significance traditional to the genre for the deeper thinkers out there to get their teeth into.

Photos: David Phelan who plays Gary and Catherine Kinsella who plays Brooke & Sean O’Callaghan who plays Frederick

Noises off runs at the Oldham Coliseum until the 29th September for more information visit
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