There are so many elements that make up theatre to cast one’s judgmental eye over: casting, writing, direction, lighting, sound… There’s a lot of potential for something to go wrong in theatre. It is live, after all.
So when everything seems to go right, the critical verve with which I march into the theatre deflates like a depressed balloon after a party, because you know what’s really hard? Writing a review for a show that appears to have no flaws. What do I say without descending into gushing (useless) or histrionics (embarrassing)? I’m supposed to be writing insightful, useful, illuminating things, not indulging in a verbal make out session with a play.
But fuck it.
With action slicker than an Inuit’s bathroom floor, timing more precise than a North Korean regiment and choreography tighter than Scrooge’s purse strings, Michael Frayn’s Noises Off is sensational!
I don’t think I’ve ever heard so much laughing (for the right reasons)…
This current production is helmed by Lindsay Posner and stationed at The Old Vic. The action centres round a troupe of nine actors rehearsing and performing a bedroom farce, Nothing On; their trials in getting the show on its feet and (failing) to keep it there, and the tangles of their intense, stress-filled relationships. Act One is the dress rehearsal the night before opening, Act Two a matinée performance (seen from backstage with the set turned around), and Act Three returns to the front for a performance near the end of the farce’s ten-week run.
There are no standout performances but a very, very finely tuned whole, testament to the ability of the director. Act Two is pretty much 35 minutes of visual comedy with little in the way of dialogue, which works a treat, and makes for a thrilling watch. The precision of the actors’ various entrances and exits are all timed to coincide with particular lines and actions, to keep the whole thing making both sense and nonsense, front stage and back.
If you’re the kind of person that hates theatre, you’ll like this.
The cast display ferocious energy throughout. I don’t think I’ve heard so much laughing (for the right reasons) during a show that didn’t feature a stand-up comic.
If you’re the kind of person that likes theatre, you’ll like this. If you’re the kind of person that hates theatre, you’ll like this. And if you’re the kind of person that’s on a New Year fitness regime, you’ll like this. It gives your mid-riff a good work out.
Of course, you may not like this. You may go to see it and leave the theatre spitting, hating it with a vehement passion and think I’m wrong.
The production runs until 12 March 2012
Tickets from £10
Images courtesy of the Old Vic and Alistair Muir