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.