Tue 23 Jan to Sat 27 Jan 2024
by Tony Flood
The ridiculousness served up in large doses by Noises Off has, over the past 42 years, left many audience members howling with laughter, but others simply bewildered. And both reactions were evident at Tuesday’s opening night at the Congress Theatre.
Most of the audience showed their appreciation by giving prolonged applause at the end, but some sat in silence – and two had walked out half way through.
Michael Frayn’s play within a play, which has just completed a West End season, lampoons a touring theatre company both on and offstage as they blunder their way through an excruciatingly bad farce called Nothing On. A chaotic dress rehearsal is followed by an equally calamitous first performance.
Franyn provides three separate parts. Act one introduces the spoof and the characters. Act two takes us backstage where tantrams and panic are paramount, resulting in an amusing series of conflicting curtain-up announcements. But most of the laughs come in Act three by which time the audience has been fully primed to appreciate the deliberate mess ups.
Director Lindsay Posner gradually builds up the pace and ineptness as frustrated fictional director Lloyd Dallas, superbly played by Simon Shepherd, berates his incompetent cast. The aggrogant Dallas also finds time to have affairs with dimwitted sexy actress Brooke Ashton (Lisa Ambalavanar) and stage manager Poppy (Nikhita Lesler).
Liza Goddard makes light of her 74 years in capturing the quirkiness of Dotty Otley who forgets her props, including a plate of sardines which end up on the floor.
There are other impressive performances from Dan Fredenburgh as neurotic leading man Garry Lejeune, Simon Coates, playing clueless Frederick Fellowes, and Paul Bradley as whisky-guzzling, muddled Selsdon Mowbray.
The buffoonery includes Frederick’s constant nose bleeds, searches for Brooke’s displaced contact lenses and Garry’s fall down a flight of stairs. Oh, there’s also the customary dropping of trousers and parading in stockings and suspenders!
Lucy Robinson and Daniel Rainford add to the madness with important comic contributions.
Some potentially funny situations are not fully exploited, partly due to a lack of clarity, but everyone involved deserves praise for showing both split-second timing and boundless energy in performing so many slapstick routines.
* There’s a Tea and Tour of the Congress Theatre and Devonshire Park Theatre on Saturday 27 January, 9 March, 20 April and 4 May.
Tony Flood will also be reviewing the following shows:
1. GUYS AND DOLLS, Devonshire Park, Thursday February 1st to Saturday February 3rd (this is a Bedes production)
2. SLEUTH, Devonshire Park, Monday March 4th to Saturday March 9th
3. SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL, Devonshire Park, Tuesday March 19th to Saturday March 23rd
DON’T MISS THREE CRIME THRILLERS RECOMMENDED BY TOP AUTHORS
Eastbourne author Tony Flood’s crime thrillers have received some glowing reviews as well as endorsements from best-selling writer Peter James and other authors.
Tony says: “I’m so pleased that people are enjoying them, but many thriller fans have yet to discover them. I think they would enjoy the free previews of the kindle versions on Amazon.co.uk and want to read more.
“Each book has a stand alone story but all feature compassionate cop Harvey Livermore who has been hailed by Peter James for shrewdly unravelling baffling murders (when not being nagged by his fiery Scottish wife!).”
The first Tony Flood thriller is TRIPLE TEASE, featuring drop dead gorgeous Katrina putting her life at risk by acting as the bait in a honey trap when joining a dating agency and going out with a murder suspect.
This is followed by STITCH UP – KILLER OR VICTIM? in which readers must decide if Denton Kerscher is a double murderer or simply cursed by bad luck after two of his girlfriends are killed. The latest thriller is FALL GUY – WHO REALLY KILLED HIS WIFE?
It tells how George Thornhill returns home early to find his glamorous wife Isabella has been stabbed. In trying unsuccessfully to save her, he gets himself covered in blood and leaves his fingerprints on the murder weapon.
George is charged and convicted, but while he is behind bars his desperate sister Myra finds a neighbour who saw someone leave the back door of the crime scene. Myra pleads with Livermore to reopen the case – and uncover new suspects.
To show his appreciation to readers who have bought either of his previous two thrillers, Tony Flood has made Fall Guy available on Amazon.co.uk for only £1.77 for the e-version and £5.79 for the paperback.