Noises Off at Garrick Theatre
Performed at the Garrick Theatre in the West End after a sell-out run at the Lyric Hammersmith, Noises Off is a feat of extraordinary timing, character development and chaos with ensuing hilarity. Revealed in three acts with a side-splitting finale, the play follows an acting company as they tour their farcical production of Nothing On around the UK and attempt not to kill each other by the end.
In a programme note, the play’s multi-award-winning writer Michael Frayn comments on director Jeremy Herrin’s “slightly insane confidence” in taking on such a frenzied set of stage directions, which is surely the highest praise as the performance goes off without a hitch. Herrin is undoubtedly assisted in the endeavour by a fantastic cast with Adrian Richards and Daniel Rigby as standouts. But newcomer Sarah Hadland is the knockout of this show as Belinda Blair – a long-time dancer and performer who remains (almost) resolute in being pleasant and insisting that everyone at the company is lovely to each other, even as the set literally falls down around them.
The collaborative effort of the cast is supported by a score that creates an increasing hysteria as the music is repeated, mirroring the actors’ demise. While the costumes and set design with lurid dresses and red trousers against a kitschy living room set are indicative of the mayhem, they are also surely an additional comedic element, as a tribute to the play’s origins in the early 80s.
It is immediately understandable why this show is such a success, with all working simultaneously to deliver a high-energy, hilarious performance of lightning-fast slapstick comedy. A particularly hairy moment with an axe offers not only comedic brilliance but if there was any doubt in the difficulty of presenting such a play, this scene will leave audiences in awe of their coordination. Noises Off is unique in offering unbeatable comedy alongside a particular type of authenticity in creating “real actors” in a “real play”.
Photo: Helen Maybanks
Noises Off is at Garrick Theatre from 27th September 2019 until 4th January 2020. Book your tickets here.