Thursday, September 28

Noises Off – The Rep Birmingham

This entertaining theatrical farce comes to Birmingham as part of a nationwide tour.

Although first presented over 40 years ago, Noises Off by Michael Fray, proves a timeless classic. It is crammed full of laughs and delightful character performances.

We join a touring theatre company in their final rehearsal of “Nothing On”, it is clear all is not as polished as it could be and already the director is showing the strain. The second act is set a few weeks later when we see the same play. This time our view is from behind the scenes as the company take the stage in front of an audience. The third act is at the end of the tour, and it is clear the company have not fared well on the road.

Pamela Raith Photography

This whole play is well observed. The way time and actions effect a small group of people brought together for a long period, is shown to perfection. The characters are recognisable to all and anyone who has been involved in theatre will relate to the situations even more.  

In any farce, timing is crucial, and this cast are masters of their craft. Nowhere is this shown more than throughout the ‘chaotic’ second act. While the ‘show’ takes place barely in view, but audible throughout, mayhem and carnage are unleashed backstage in almost total silence. Making this look seamless and natural is an art and the hours of rehearsal this must have taken really do pay off. The second half for me is the highlight of the show. There Is never a dull moment leaving you and the cast needing the short break that follows to recover.

Every performance, from every member of the cast was believable and entertaining. Within the cast there is a wide range of experience and each and every person brought something different to the stage. From Liza Goddard as the aptly named Dotty, with a strange obsession with sardines, the drunk but sometimes very lucid Selsdon of Matthew Kelly, Simon Shepherd as Lloyd the director with delusions of grandeur to young actress, Brooke (Lisa Ambalavanar) playing it by the book, no matter what and Nikhita Lesler and Daniel Rainford as Polly and Tim, the overworked and put upon backstage team, everyone throws themselves into their characters to deliver different but equally superb performances.

A moment of appreciation for the set designed by Simon Higlett; the transformation from ‘Backstage’ to ‘Onstage’ in 5 minutes is testament to an ingenious design and an accomplished crew.

Everything you need for a farce is here, the confusion, mistaken identity, physical humour, running jokes and word play, all working together in perfect harmony to keep the laughs coming. As the summer fades, this is the perfect antidote that is sure to keep you smiling all the way home. Don’t miss it.

Runs until Saturday 9th September 2023,

Reviewer: Annette Nuttall

Reviewed: 29th August 2023

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.