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Noises Off (Birmingham)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Neil Pearson
Michael Frayn's slapstick comedy of backstage farce through the eyes of a very dysfunctional theatre company is a constant laugh out loud show that contains everything you'd expect from a classic British comedy.

During act one we follow the company through their first (and last) dress rehearsal of a play they're about to take on the road; Nothing On. Things aren't looking good for opening night as the disastrous cast are still unable to remember their lines, constantly dropping props and forgetting which of the many set doors to use.

Set in the home of Frederick (Chris Larkin) and Belinda (Sasha Waddell), their marriage, and personalities are chaotic. Flowing through the majority of the play, the audience grab a sense of the action and become familiar to the characters and lines that play a significant role in act two and three.

Act two is set backstage, with an elaborate set change the literally spins the set around, we are privy to the back of house antics that the cast are subjected to. Performed for the majority in silence, the cast demonstrate their incredible ability to engage and interact through the art of mime, whilst maintaining the attention to detail the play solely relies on. David Bark-Jones plays an expressive and animated portrayal of Garry, along with Vicky (Thomasin Rand).

Finally during act three, we are switched back to the audience view and witness one of the final renditions of the catastrophic play complete with understudies, injuries and a very peculiar plate of sardines that becomes the responsibility of Dotty (Maureen Beattie) in a terrific display of comedy.

Neil Pearson takes on the challenging role of Lloyd Dallas, the director of the play and, as referred to in act three, ‘a kind of social worker that tells us all what to do when things go wrong', his presence is domineering and a much needed figure head of the cast that is wholly needed with his conviction containing humour and determination.

The Old Vic provides a perfect revival of Michael Frayn's comedy in which the sense of British-ness is a constant theme throughout the piece.

Noises Off plays at Birmingham's New Alexandra Theatre until Saturday 29 June.