Farce seems to be making something of a comeback, starting with the worldwide success of One Man Two Guv’nors – and now, following its successful revival at the Old Vic, Michael Frayn’s 1983 play Noises Off has arrived in Glasgow on its national tour.
The show follows the antics of a touring theatre company, from chaotic rehearsals to a shambolic matinee and finishing with a disastrous performance in Stockton-on-Tees.
The production flashes between the company’s ill-fated play Nothing On and the manic backstage shenanigans. It contains all the classic elements of farce: people running around in their underwear, men dropping their trousers, actors forgetting their lines, characters who miss their cues and doors opening and slamming shut all over the place.
The success of this show rests in the hands of its cast – and boy is this a cast: familiar face Neil Pearson is the demented director Lloyd, grappling with the band of misfits he has to call a cast as well as with Brooke (Thomasin Rand) and Poppy (Danielle Flett) the young starlet and besotted stage manager who he’s having affairs with; Maureen Beattie turns in a fine comic turn as the literally dotty Dotty, who, not to be out-done is having an affair with much younger leading man Garry (an astonishing masterclass of physical comedy from David Bark-Jones). Chris Larkin and Sasha Waddell perfectly encapsulate that particular type of middle-class stage luvvie and Geoffrey Freshwater as doddery old thesp Selsdon Mowbray and Simon Bubb as put-upon Tim round out a stellar cast.
The first act takes a while to warm up but it is the necessary build up to the chaos that follows. The second and third acts are a masterclass in comic acting – eliciting genuine bellows of laughter from the audience.
If it’s belly-laughs you’re after then there’s no better place to get them than here – genuine five star fun.
It’s a funny thing indeed to see your acting hero in the flesh, there’s a hint of unreality that it’s really just a film your watching. Expectations were high; the tension in the air before the performance at the Old Vic was palpable. I have never felt an atmosphere like it, the audience was literally buzzing.
The moment Kevin Spacey appeared on stage and announced “Now is the winter of our discontent” there was a sharp intake of breathe and the audience seemed to hold it there in total silence for the next two hours until the first interval. It’s a testament to him and a strong supporting cast that the two hours flew by in the blink of an eye. Totally breathtaking from start to finish.
It’s easy to see why Spacey has two Oscars, he is totally magnetic, even when not part of the action you can’t help follow his every move. Chewing The Scenery blog agrees;
“He (Spacey) is unavoidably watchable whenever he is on stage; often his reactions and expressions are more exciting than the dialogue being delivered by the rest of the very talented cast. In no way does Spacey attempt to compensate for his screen acting experience by exaggerating his gestures beyond what is necessary; every gesture is beautifully judged and every syllable articulate. Put plainly, Kevin Spacey over the course of three and a half hours proves to over 1,000 people each night exactly why he is the best. His monologues and asides to the audience are so delightfully acted, it was hard not to become mesmerised in the presence of a true star.”
This was a truly momentous experience – one you get the feeling only comes around once a decade. Proof of this was the fact there were more famous actors in the audience than on the stage, no doubt coming to see if Spacey was all he was hyped up to be. Well, simply put – he is! I, like my fellow audience members was on my feet at the end and the ovation just thundered on and on. This was remarkable – unforgettable theatrical magic!
This Noel Coward play has returned to the London stage for the first time in over 15 years. Beginning in 1930s bohemian Paris, it travels to London and then to the heights of Manhattan society. A tempestuous love triangle unravels between interior designer Gilda, playwright Leo and artist Otto – three people unashamedly and passionately in love with each other.
Initially banned in Britain it certainly lives up to Noel Coward’s quote “Let’s live turbulently”. This production at the Old Vic is opulently staged and has some stellar acting performances from Andrew Scott (recently seen as Moriarty in Sherlock) who has a magenetic presence and fine comic timing and Tom Burke (from one of my favourite dramas State of Play). The rapport between the two made each scene together sparkle and the laughter just flowed when they were together – to the point where my mascara was literally running down my face. The only weak link was Lisa Dillon who just didn’t convince, she was too uptight, clipped, middle-England to be believable as the bohemian-minded Gilda.
A play that shows however light-weight Coward appeared on the surface he managed to convey some very forward-thinking views in between the laughs, and laughs a-plenty there are to be had here.
A play of quality, beautifully staged, directed and acted.