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Noises Off – Storyhouse, Chester

Reviewer: Clare Boswell

Writer: Michael Frayn

Director: Lindsay Posner

In a whirlwind of chaos and comedic brilliance, Storyhouse Theatre’s production of Michael Frayn’s “Noises Off” directed by Lindsay Posner delivers an uproarious night of entertainment that kept the packed auditorium laughing from start to finish.

The play, set in the realm of a beleaguered theatre production, offers a glimpse behind the curtain of a farce called “Nothing On.” As the cast struggles through a final dress rehearsal and subsequent performances, the audience is treated to a riotous spectacle of misplaced props, forgotten lines, and romantic entanglements gone awry.

At the helm of the chaos is Simon Shepherd as Lloyd Dallas, the exasperated director desperately trying to maintain order amidst the madness. Shepherd’s portrayal of Dallas is commanding yet sympathetic, as he navigates the tumultuous waters of a production spiralling out of control. Opposite Shepherd is the delightful Liza Goddard as Dotty Ottley, the seasoned actress whose memory lapses and penchant for sardines provide endless comedic fodder. Goddard’s performance is a masterclass in physical comedy, as she navigates the absurdities of her character with grace and charm. Mark Middleton brings a dose of charisma to the role of Garry Lejune, the leading man whose ego is as inflated as his theatrical aspirations. Middleton’s comedic timing is impeccable, as he bumbles through the chaos with a mix of bravado and cluelessness.

Lisa Ambalavanar shines as Brooke Ashton, the ingénue whose beauty is matched only by her lack of coordination. Ambalavanar’s portrayal of Brooke is both hilarious and endearing, as she stumbles her way through the production with a wide-eyed innocence and a habit of losing her contact lenses at the most inopportune of moments. Nikhita Lesler impresses as Poppy Norton-Taylor, the earnest stage manager tasked with keeping the show on track. Lesler’s performance is a perfect blend of frazzled energy and unwavering determination, as she wrangles the unruly cast and crew with a mix of exasperation and grace. Supporting the main cast are Simon Coates as Frederick Fellowes, Lucy Robinson as Belinda Blair, Daniel Rainford as Tim Allgood, and Paul Bradley as Selsdon Mowbray, each delivering memorable performances that add depth and humour to the ensemble.

One of the standout features of “Noises Off” is its ingenious set design by Simon Higlett, which seamlessly transitions between the onstage performance and the chaos backstage. From slamming doors to misplaced props, Higlett’s design adds an extra layer of hilarity to the proceedings, enhancing the comedic impact of every scene. The second act, which takes place backstage during a performance of “Nothing On,” is a masterclass in comic choreography. As the cast members navigate the chaos behind the scenes, their impeccable timing and physicality create a symphony of slapstick humour that had the audience roaring with laughter.

While “Noises Off” shares similarities with “The Play That Goes Wrong,” it stands on its own as a classic farce that continues to delight audiences with its witty dialogue and absurd humour. This production of “Noises Off” is a must-see for anyone in need of a good laugh.

Runs until 10 February 2024

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A Comedy Whirlwind

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The North West team is under the editorship of John McRoberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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