Andy Reed: IT Professional & Amateur Dramatics Enthusiast

//On Stage/Noises Off

Noises Off

The Belfrey Theatre, Wellington, Shropshire

July 1997

By Michael Frayn


In his plot for Noises Off, Frayn plays on the concept of a play within a play, in this case a dreadful sex comedy titled Nothing On—the type of play in which young girls run about in their underwear, old men drop their trousers, and many doors continually open and shut.

Each of the three acts of Noises Off contains a performance of the first act of Nothing On.

Act One is set at the dress rehearsal, the night before opening at the (fictional) Grand Theatre in Weston-super-Mare, with the cast still fumbling with entrances and exits, missed cues, misspoken lines, and bothersome props, most notably several plates of sardines.

Act Two portrays a Wednesday matinee performance one month later, at the (again fictional) Theatre Royal in Ashton-under-Lyne. In this act, the play is seen from backstage, providing a view that reveals the deteriorating personal relationships among the cast that have led to offstage shenanigans and onstage bedlam. Also, there appears to be no true resolution. The play simply falls into turmoil and disorder before the curtain is pulled.

In Act Three, we see a performance near the end of the ten-week run, at the (still fictional) Municipal Theatre in Stockton-on-Tees, when personal friction has continued to increase and everyone is bored and anxious to be done with the play. The actors attempt to cover up a series of mishaps but only compound the problems and draw attention to the bungling performance.

Much of the comedy emerges from the subtle variations in each version as off-stage chaos affects on-stage performance, with a great deal of slapstick. The contrast between players' on-stage and off-stage personalities is also a source of comic dissonance (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

Cast Photos:

The Production Team:

Director- Brian Hughes
Stage Manager - Neil Hunter
Assistant Stage Managers - Lynne Shepherd & Liz Corser
Lighting - Rob Davies
Sound Technician - David Bennion-Pedley
Costume - Margaret Perry
Make-Up - Chris Simmons
Properties - Lynne Shepherd
Set Design/Contruction - Neil Hunter, Geof Corser & Russell Johns
Poster Design - Russell Johns
Photography - Iain Wilson
Programme & Printing - Marianne Foster & Andrew Foster
Front Of House - Dilys Ashton & Company
Bar - Caroline Owen

The Cast:

Dotty Otley
- Marianne Foster
Lloyd Dallas - Tony Stevens
Garry Lejeune - Gavin Pattison
Brooke Ashton
- Ruth Edington
Poppy Norton-Taylor - Joanne Stellmach
Frederick Fellowes
- Andy Reed
Belinda Blair - Margaret Perry
Tim Allgood - Lee Townsend
Seldon Mowbray - Eddie Gibbs