Theatre Review: Noises Off

Theatre Review: Noises Off

Michael Frayn’s farcical look at farce is a play within a play, following the behind-the-scenes lives of a touring stage show from rehearsals to the bitter end!

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Andrew Dowling, John  Matsen, Georgia Stockham, David Kinna, Tina Cini and Amber Platten in 'Noises Off'
Andrew Dowling, John Matsen, Georgia Stockham, David Kinna, Tina Cini and Amber Platten in ‘Noises Off’

Presented by Tea Tree Players
Reviewed 4 February 2015

Michael Frayn’s farcical look at farce, Noises Off, is certainly one of the funniest plays ever written. It looks at a troupe of actors touring a typical English farce, the fictitious Nothing On. The audience get to see the gradual decline of the actors’ various relationships and the much faster decline in the quality of their production during a ten week national tour of England.

Act One allows us to see the final Dress Rehearsal; Act Two is a mid-season matinee (but as seen from backstage of the multi-entranced set). Act Three takes us to near the end of the run where the show is on its last legs, going to hell in a hand-basket chaotically.

Noises Off is very rarely performed by amateur companies – certainly in South Australia, where it has been done only once before – mainly because of the expert comic timing and immense physical skills required of the actors and the fact that the whole set needs to turn 360 degrees (twice) during each performance.

While the Tea Tree Players would probably manage to cast the play fairly well, there were many (including this reviewer) who said that attempting to put such a huge and complicated set onto the small Players’ stage was sheer lunacy and totally impossible. Thanks to the ingenuity, skill and determination of set designer Don Stuart however, we naysayers have much humble pie to eat: the set works a treat!

Director Robert Andrews has managed to pull off ninety eight per cent of the laughs. With just a little more attention given to the characters’ personalities in Act One, he would have scored a touchdown.

Adrian Heness, as the faint-a-lot matinee idol, Frederick, absolutely shines in the part, and impresses particularly with his physical comedy; with Amber Platten giving him a run for his money in the comedy stakes as ditzy, eye-popping (literally) blonde, Brooke. This is the role that Platten seems to have been born for.

Hayley Mitchell is also very impressive as the confidence-lacking assistant stage-manager, Poppy, beautifully under-playing the role. Georgia Stockham, Tina Cini, Damon Hill and John Matsen are as reliable and funny as ever.

As Garry, an ‘actor’ within the play who can’t express himself without having his conversation scripted, David Kinna muddies the water by running his sentences together. Without sufficient gaps for word-searching, his character’s humour is lost. As the ‘director’ of the play-within-the-play, Andrew Dowling manages to get many of his laughs, but needs to be far more vitriolic to be even funnier.

All in all, Tea Tree Players have provided its audience with a hilarious, very entertaining evening and proved, beyond a doubt, that sometimes the impossible can be successfully achieved.

Reviewed by Brian Godfrey
Twitter: @briangods

Venue: Tea Tree Players Theatre  cnr Yatala Vale and Hancock Roads, Surrey Downs
Season: 4 – 21 February 2015
Duration: 2 hours 15 min including 2 intervals
Tickets: $13.00 – $15.00
Bookings: Book online through the Tea Tree Players website or phone their office on 8289 5266 (Tues & Thurs only, from 10am -1pm)

 

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