Tuesday, 8 October 2019

REVIEW: Noises Off at the Garrick theatre

The Lyric Hammersmith’s production of Noises Off opens in the living-room of a picturesque country home. “HOLD IT THERE” comes the booming voice of Lloyd Dallas, played by Lloyd Owen. Dallas is the director of Nothing On which is currently approaching the midnight hour of the dress rehearsal in Weston Super-Mare. This is the first of many interruptions that threaten to derail the production.

This play-within-a-play, or more accurately a farce-within-a-farce, centres around an acting company attempting to stage a bedroom farce as their relationships and the show itself descend further and further into chaos. In the first act we see the hours slipping away as the actors try to remember their blocking and lines as Dallas pulls his hair out and the poor Stage Management team of Poppy and Tim (Anjli Mohindra and Adrian Richards respectively) struggle to keep the show afloat and their nerves in check.

The choreography of this show is an utter masterpiece. As each visitor to the house darts through a door another swings open; every character misses the others with timing so impeccable you could set your watch too it. The choreography in the second act steps up a level; axes, sardines and bottles of whiskey fly across the backstage that is now presented to us. Flowers, sheets and costumes get whipped around in a frenzied whirlwind of perfectly executed slapstick comedy and all in silence as we hear the performance take place through the doors and walls of the set which now shows us its unkempt backstage side.

Max Jones’ set design was not overly lavish or complex but was practical and breakable and comprised of plenty of “doors and boxes” for the performers to utilise. The costume design, also by Jones, was equally as practical and simple, allowing us to focus on the excellent performances from the cast.

Director Jeremy Herrinmust have worked this company unbelievably hard; there’s no way a cast can perfect this level of movement and comedy without it. The show is a mammoth undertaking, but the entire company works together like a well-oiled machine, clearly in sync with each other every step of the way and that is in no small part down to Herrin’s brilliant direction and Joyce Henderson’s wonderful movement direction.

For any of us that have ever had the joy of working in theatre, this show has so
many identifiable moments that allow us to relive those memories whilst presenting them perfectly to any patrons not so familiar with backstage antics. Whether it is the hunt for the drink-troubled Selsdon (Simon Rouse) or the cast love affairs, it all feels all too familiar! 

Noises Off was an utter joy to watch. I was exhausted from laughing so much so I can only imagine how tired the cast must be after their relentlessly energetic performances every night. A gut-wrenchingly funny production of a brilliant show and a must see before it closes in 2020… but the Garrick may need to install some wipe-clean seats for the rest of the run!

Review by Max Topliss

Rating: ★★★★★

Seat: STALLS G15 | Price of Ticket: £52.50
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