|Michael Frayn’s comic masterpiece "NOISES OFF" |
Billed as the “funniest farce in the world”, “Noises Off” is a play within a play. It is about an ambitious director and his troupe of mediocre actors.
The cast and crew are putting together a silly sex comedy titled, Nothing On- a farce in which lovers frolic, doors slam and sardines rule the stage. By the time they forget their lines, misplace their props and fall in love with their fellow cast members the audiences will be rolling in the isles and loving every minute.
“Noises Off” has become a staple of both professional theatre companies and community theatres since the play premiered in London in 1982. “Noises Off is not only a play within a play but a farce within a farce. When the committee of The Criterion and visiting director Joumana Jeffers travelled to Sydney to see The Sydney Theatre Company’s production earlier this year, they returned enthusiastic about the challenge, but somewhat daunted by the task ahead.
The play is an ensemble piece with a tight cast of 9 actors. There are six actors in both plays plus a director, the stage manager, and an assistant stage manager.
Lloyd Dallas, played by newcomer to the Criterion, Desan Padayachee is the temperamental, philandering director of “Noises Off” who struggles to bring his inept cast to some sort of performance standard.
Dotty Ottley (Fran McHugh) is an aging actress who has funded “Nothing On “in order to “put a little something by”. She divides her time equally between losing plates of sardines and making romantic advances to the male characters in the play.
Gary Lejeune, her younger, incoherent and chronically unable to finish a sentence, fellow actor (played by Criterion regular Tarlinga) is her first romantic interest, however she extends her net to the recently separated Frederick.
The, none too bright, Freddie is oblivious of the backstage drama this creates. Freddie is played by another new performer at the Criterion, Bill North.
Racheal Mackey plays the self-absorbed, myopic starlet Brooke, who adds to the chaos by regularly losing her contact lenses.
The actress Belinda (Glenys Addison) is all sunshine and smiles initially, however by act 3 she is having a screeching row with Dottie, and struggling bravely to save the catastrophe that “Nothing On” has become.
Misty Fisher and Jordan Smith play the stage managers, Poppy and Tim, who bear the brunt of everyone’s dramas.
Add to this mix Ken McKenzie, as the senior, alcoholic actor, Selsdon along with the continual struggles the cast have to separate him from bottles of whiskey and you have a recipe for hilarious, organised mayhem.
Special praise goes to Sue and Dave Mackay and Stuart Garland for the stellar job done with a complex set and prop construction consisting of 2 levels, 7 doors and several plates of sardines.
To quote Lloyd Dallas” If we can just get through the play once tonight for doors and sardines. That’s what it’s all about. Doors and sardines. Getting on – getting off. Getting the sardines on – getting sardines off. That’s farce. That’s theatre. That’s life.”
NB: Occasional Coarse Language.
Directed by Joumana Jeffers