Old Vic production of Noises Off set for UK tour
The play within a play gets a scientific and funny makeover
‘It’s one of the purest farces ever written in the English language,’ is how director Lindsay Posner describes Michael Frayn’s 1982 comedy Noises Off: ‘I do see it as a truly great play.’ Posner’s new touring version of the play celebrates its thirtieth anniversary, with starring appearances from Neil Pearson and Maureen Beattie in an Old Vic production.
Cleverly usurping the traditional saucy English farce, as its three acts present the rehearsal and first and final performances of the terrible play-within-a-play Nothing On, Noises Off traces the disintegration of the touring company staging it through the mannerisms of the actors and how they relate to one another from performance to performance. ‘It’s about life in the theatre,’ says Posner, ‘a terrible theatre putting on a play not very well. But it’s also very accessible to people who don’t work in the theatre. It’s about eternal neurotic dilemmas. What do you do when your life gets out of control? How do you deal with the unmanageable?’
It may seem like featherlight fare from the writer of Copenhagen and Democracy, but Posner says the meat of the play is in its craft. ‘There’s not a word out of place,’ he says. ‘That’s partly because Michael Frayn is a brilliant scientist and a well-read renaissance man in terms of his breadth of knowledge. Clearly his scientific brain feeds into his artistic brain, because he’s created a play that’s ingeniously worked out.’
King’s Theatre, Glasgow, Mon 27 May--Sat 1 Jun; King’s Theatre, Edinburgh, Tue 4--Sat 8 Jun.