Michael Frayn's comedy classic Noises Off recently enjoyed a spirited and lively revival at the Old Vic, followed by a swift transfer to the West End. The cast might have changed but this touring version has all of the gumption and frenetic elements that made London audiences fall in love with it all over again.
The joy of this piece is watching the play within a play – Nothing On – delivered half-heartedly by a cast who would rather be somewhere else and directed by a man on the edge. Then in the second half the pay-off occurs, because we realise that the lives of the actors is as complicated as the farcical elements on stage.
Neil Pearson is suitably sardonic as Lloyd Dallas the director of the awful play. His frustration is superbly portrayed through his body language and his quiet anger within. He sits festering like a long forgotten volcano – ready to erupt.
Maureen Beattie's Dotty is a superb creation, as the lead actress longs for better work. This gives Beattie much to play with and she does so with aplomb and dexterity. Watching her crumble before your very eyes and resort to the antics of a child is delightful to see.
Sasha Waddell and David Bark-Jones also shine as hapless performers. The whole cast are excellent – performing like Olympians – with the same amount of energy and showmanship. They keep you watching through your hands as the farce is stretched like an elastic band.
If you're not fan of the likes of Nothing On, there is still much to see, though it helps to have seen this type of production to completely immerse yourself in the lunacy.
This is the third time I've seen this play and even though there were some sound problems on the night I attended and some dialogue was missed, the cast deliver this classic like their lives depend on it. It may lack big names, but Lindsay Posner directs with skill and affection and the result is laugh-a-minute and a reminder of how great Noises Off can be in the right hands.
- Glenn Meads