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Review: Books, Theatre, Albums, Movies and Gigs

Noises Off

Playhouse Theatre, Liverpool
June 8 - June 30

Author: Michael Frayn
Director: Philip Wilson
Producer: Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse
Cast includes: Anna Acton, Matthew Cottle, Fiona Dunn, Damien Matthews, Simon Harrison, Fred Pearson, Geraldine McNulty, Laura Doddington, David Leonard.
Running time: 2 hrs 40 mins

Image: Promo image for 'Noises Off'.

Noises Off

Everyman Liverpool Playhouse official website

Come on. Admit it. Who doesn’t turn up at a show or a gig and hope beyond hope that something – anything – will go disastrously wrong for those performing? A microphone breaking down or some poor sod completely forgetting their lines perhaps? How about a bit of scenery crashing to within an ace of the actor’s fragile ego? Ha, thought so. Rubber necking from the comfy seats should be an Olympic sport.

Image: Matthew Cottle (Frederick)Noises Off, without doubt, is for everyone who loves Ealing comedy. For farce to succeed timing is everything. Theatre, after all, is a serious business so satirising its weightiness is a brave move and needs to be sure of itself to work. In the hands of writer Michael Frayn however – and in those of this exceptional cast – the dreaded goofed line and the feared fumbled moment become outstandingly riotous.

Anna Acton, playing the WAG-esque Brooke, is exceptional. When confronted with something unexpected, Brooke simply carries on regardless, naively mindless of the chaos surrounding her. Like Les Dawson hitting all the wrong keys, Anna Acton gets the point spot on every time.

Image: Geraldine McNulty (Dotty)As do the rest of the cast, but in different ways. Fiona Dunn has the controlled facial exaggeration of Rowan Atkinson, whereas Matthew Cottle collects every wimp he’s ever played then pours them shamelessly into this single role but in a manner that still remains fresh. Fred Pearson hams it up joyously as failed Thesp, Selsdon, whereas Geraldine McNulty and David Leonard are uproarious in their putdowns. Damien Matthews, too, gives an exemplary performance as Gary, while Simon Harrison is fittingly understated and loveable as put upon dogsbody, Tim. Has Chris de Burgh’s The Lady In Red ever been sung with such sincere … trepidation?

Laura Doddington’s stage manger, Poppy, is nauseatingly sweet … but enchantingly dim. Somebody to offer a hug to, as long as they never ever thought you might mean it. Yet still you can’t help but root for her to come through in the end.

See, it’s catching. Innuendosville, next stop.

With an ingenious set representing the front and back stage areas, Noises Off is a superb production of a consummate farce throughout which, unusually, the joke never pales and is, quite simply, a brilliant night out.


Everyman Liverpool Playhouse official website



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“Writing gets me away for a while' from this world and into one where I, alone, can make or
break the rules as I see fit.” - Chris High 2003.
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