Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Noises Off

(Sydney Theatre Company)

Michael Frayn's 'Noises Off' was first staged in 1982 and revived in the form currently staged by the Sydney Theatre Company in 2000.

The comedy/farce is essentially the staging of an unremarkable act of an unremarkable play by an unremarkable acting company touring unremarkable regional towns of Britain. We see that single act performed three times each time from a different perspective. The humour and cleverness of the piece comes from the deterioration of the performances and the company itself as the tour progresses.

The first staging is a dress rehearsal on the eve of the opening night. We are introduced to the company and its foibles. Naturally there is a not a 'normal' person amongst them or rather each of them is so 'normal' that they are packed with all manner of contradictions and insecurities.

The second staging is a few months into the tour. The company members are fracturing as relationships deteriorate and petty jealousies emerge. All is not well back stage.

The third staging is on the final night of the tour. The company is now at its wit's end and the tour cannot be over soon enough for them. Company discipline has disappeared and it is all that the performers can manage to paper over the errors and disasters occurring on stage.

This is an old fashioned play with and old fashioned appearance but the play still entertains on the strength of fine teamwork and precise timing. The final irony is that the strength of 'Noises Off' is the exact opposite of the weaknesses portrayed in the mythical play it depicts.

Stay beyond the interval for the second and third stagings and your reward is a quaintly innocent, somewhat twee, funny entertainment.

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