Review: Noises Off, Sheringham Little Theatre

Scenes from Michael Frayn's farce Noises Off at Sheringham Little Theatre. Picture: SUBMITTED

Scenes from Michael Frayn's farce Noises Off at Sheringham Little Theatre. Picture: SUBMITTED - Credit: Archant

Noises Off

Sheringham Little Theatre

Michael Frayn's classic farce revolves around the fascination we all have for what we shouldn't see.

Noises Off could be renamed Backstage, because the action pivots on what we sneakily witness behind the scenes in part two. As the actors frantically rush about trying to make their entrances and exits, tempers fray, emotions get out of hand and, despite the lack of speech, the characters reveal their true natures.

That's appropriate, because this fundraiser turns the spotlight on the Little Theatre's own backstage. The plans to put a new rehearsal space on the roof will certainly help avoid the kind of stress seen on stage, when too many actors are crammed too close together for too long.

Tension crackles in this show right from the start. Part one sees director Lloyd Dallas (Simon Thompson) tearing his hair as he tries to prepare a recalcitrant group of actors for their first night. Nothing On, a bedroom farce in the traditional vein, is presenting his cast with a host of hard to solve problems. Dotty Otley (Amanda Howell) can't remember to take off the sardines; Selsdon Mowbray (Cornelius Garrett) can't remember to stop drinking the Scotch; and Brooke Ashton (Rachel Sutton) doesn't look like she can remember what play she's in. Belinda Blair seems a bit more with it – but then she is played by Debbie Thompson, and it's hard to imagine the director of the Little Theatre forgetting anything.

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The characters are all keenly observed and very funny. Diva Dotty, the mature siren in the cast, had me in stitches - and Lloyd Dallas was a tour de force. The real skill of this play, however, is keeping the pace and rhythm exactly right. It's like a piece of music: you notice straight away if a phrase is out of place. Deceptively simple on the page, it demands great precision from its performers. But with such a dedicated ensemble, it's not surprising to find that not a note is out of place.

Noises Off runs until June 6 - catch it if you can.

Eve Stebbing

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