Approved by ATG's PR & Communications Officer, David Bradbury
Charles Spencer, The Telegraph
You will have to forgive me if this review seems more than usually inarticulate.
I have just emerged from Michael Frayn's comic masterpiece Noises Off and every few seconds I remember some incident from his inspired farce about a farce and start laughing uncontrollably all over again.
Indeed the taxi driver who drove me from the Old Vic to the Garrick Club where I am now attempting to write this notice kept giving me worried looks in his rear-view mirror as I cackled uncontrollably for no apparent reason. I half expected him to call a doctor and have his lunatic passenger sectioned.
Theatrical comic bliss seemed to have reached its apogee this year with the National's brilliant One Man, Two Guvnors. But Frayn's Noises Off, first seen in 1982 and now receiving an inspired revival directed by Lindsay Posner with a cracking cast, is even funnier.
The thing about Frayn is that he is brainy as well as funny. And what begins as a spot-on parody of a terrible touring production of a farce achieves an almost mathematical elegance as Frayn calculates all the many and varied ways in which it can all go wrong.
By the end you feel that every possible permutation of the things you can do with plates of sardines, malfunctioning telephones, dodgy dialogue, libidinous actors, dropped trousers, and shoe laces that have been maliciously tied together has been comprehensively explored. And the comic invention is so prodigal that there are moments when you are no longer certain quite what you are laughing at. All you know is that you can’t stop.
Noises Off is cunningly structured so that we see the farce at various stages of its doomed tour. In the first act we watch Robert Glenister's sarkily vicious director bullying his incompetent cast as they struggle through a disastrous dress rehearsal.
Then in an inspired coup, the second act is set backstage four weeks later and we are privy to the mayhem behind the scenes as the cast try to keep the show on the road while dealing with vicious romantic rivalries and an alcoholic actor who keeps going awol.
Then in the final act we see the action from the front again, on the last night of the show’s run, when the whole company has been reduced to a state of collective shell shock and physical injury. In previous productions this has always been the weakest section of the play. Miraculously Posner and his great cast make it every bit as funny as what has gone before.
There isn't a single weak performance, but there is particularly delightful work from Celia Imrie as the lovable old soap star Dotty Otley, who is having a fling with Jamie Glover's much younger, and hilariously dim, leading man. I also loved Amy Nuttall as a bimbo who is repeatedly stripped to her scanties and keeps losing her contact lenses; and Jonathan Coy as an amiable old luvvie wrongly suspected of sexual double dealing.
In these dark, anxious times, Noises Off offers an infallible escape into happiness!
To buy tickets visit... http://www.atgtickets.com/Noises-Off-Tickets/3/58/