Noises Off is considered one of the great comic hits of the 1980s. The backstage imbroglio follows a touring company who mount a chaotic production of a trouser-dropping farce calling Nothing On. Amongst all the confusion, frayed tempers, broken hearts and off-stage explosions, can the show go on? Noises Off was first produced at the West End's Savoy Theatre in 1982, when it won the Olivier for Best Comedy and went on to run for five years.
The current revival played at the NT Lyttelton from October 2000 to 20 February 2001 before a regional tour and subsequent transfer to the Piccadilly on 14 May 2001 (previews from 3 May). The show recently opened on Broadway, where it broke non-musical box office records, taking $300,000 in a single day at the box office.
The West End production has attracted impressive casts to date, particularly for leading lady Dotty Otley with first Patricia Hodge, then Lynn Redgrave and now Ilsa Blair assuming the role. The search is now underway for another high-profile successor to Blair. Other members of the current cast are Christopher Benjamin, Susie Blake, Peter Egan, Selina Griffiths, Robert Portal, Chris Langham, Paul Thornley and Natalie Walter.
Noises Off is directed by Jeremy Sams and designed by Robert Jones, with lighting by Tim Mitchell and sound by Fergus O'Hare. It's produced in the West End by the Ambassador Theatre Group and Act Productions.
Currently at the Comedy Theatre, A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, now starring Eddie Izzard along with Victoria Hamilton and Prunella Scales, must finish its limited season on 26 January 2002.
- by Terri Paddock