Writer: Michael Frayn
Director: Bob Eaton
Reviewer: Matt Yeoman
It’s a risky business producing a comedy so well known as Michael Frayn’s Noises Off. Bob Eaton and his team at the Royal Court Liverpool have risen to the challenge and with a strong cast and creative team the production does not disappoint.
The production did lack a certain sense of drive in Act 1 where urgency and mild, yet controlled panic is essential to fully portray the lack of time before opening night. The rather laid back and cavalier interpretation of Lloyd Dallas by Jonathan Markwood creates missed opportunities and while his performance strengthens in Act2 it seems a little too late for redemption.
The play within a play concept was fully explored with Eaton utilising the script to its fullest in Act2 as the actors produced a complex slapstick comedy of errors that was incredibly well directed and almost choreographed. Timing when producing this show is absolutely crucial and the cast worked together incredibly well demonstrating and excellent awareness and use of comic timing. From here on in, the show travels at full speed exploring every possible opportunity for farcical affairs. A strong cast were propped up by the superb comic talents of Danny O’Brien whose portrayal of Tim Allgood is outstanding. Kim Hartman (Dotty Otley/Mrs Clackett), Stephen Fletcher (Gary LeJeune/Roger Tramplemain) and Tupele Dorgu (Belinda Blair/Flavia Brent) all create very well rounded characters when both on and off the ‘Nothing On’ stage. Their strengths of ‘playing up’ the parts are essential to the success of the production. Phil Hearne attempts to portray the character of Selsdon Mowbray as an ageing deaf drunkard, but is not as convincing.
The added dimension of the onstage change of set and scenery between Act 2 and 3 serves to celebrate the creativity of the design team who have created a stage set that represents a ‘poor’ set before revolving into an expertly created backstage setting.
The final Act is expertly produced and compensates brilliantly for the first. The slick movements and timings of the cast help to ensure the audience are all laughing out loud at the ridiculousness of the situation the cast are in. The movement between character and actor rôles are expertly developed and Eaton has evidently worked hard on this aspect of the show.
For those who have not been to the Royal Court Liverpool the venue itself is reason enough to go and see this production which serves to provide a rather enjoyable evening.
Runs until 4th October, 2014