Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

Noises Off

The Wardens , Aberystwyth Arts Centre , May 8, 2014
Noises Off by The Wardens ‘Noises Off’ is a riotous farce with dark undertones, concerning a theatre company, Otstar Productions, who are rehearsing and then performing a farce – NOTHING ON.

So there are two plays in one - the relationships between the actors in the company that are presenting the farce and the performance of the farce itself.

Act 1 is the final rehearsal with Director and actors – and anyone who has directed or performed in a farce will recognise the trials and tribulations of perfecting difficult stage business – exits and entrances, pace, and handling props and characterisation. The Act also introduced the audience to the personal relationships between the actors. I thought the Act started a little tentatively and took a bit of time to engage the audience – however once it picked up the performance cracked along at a great pace and there was no stopping it.

Act 2, takes place back stage during a performance of ‘Nothing On’ and we see behind the scenes. Clearly the cast can make no noise and have to ensure that they can’t be seen by the ‘imaginary’ audience through the windows in the scenery or when doors are opened. This was a masterclass in how to direct and perform farce. It had all the elements, stock characters, lots of doors, mistaken identity, hiding in rooms, slapstic and pace. It was directed / choreographed brilliantly and the cast responded with high octane performances. The audience were almost worn out laughing. .

Act 3 presents part of the final performance of the tour of ‘Nothing On’ and we see how the two plays have become intertwined and the relationships between the actors have deteriorated. But the show must go on despite deliberately improvised lines, wrong or missing props and missed entrances.

This was a strong cast, but there were particularly impressive performances by the athletic Marcus Dobson, Natalie Redman, a new actress to me and one to watch, Theresa Jones and James Vale.

I have a passing concern that the play exploits and reinforces stereotypical views of actors and I would like to have seen a little more reality in the expression of the personal relationships between the actors. However that took nothing away from a very entertaining performance in the hands of a skilled director and cast.

Presented by The Wardens at Aberystwyth Arts Centre . 30th April – 3rd May 2014.

Directed by Richard Cheshire.

Reviewed by: Richard Hogger.

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