Noises Off, Theatre Review. Epstein Theatre, Liverpool.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *

Cast: Kathryn Chambers, Tom Platt, Vikki Earle, Tom Cavendish, Danny Fahey, Lauren Molyneux, Liz Blake, Joey Wishwell, Alec Walters.

Noises Off is one of those gems of a production that an audience can never be introduced to enough, a true blend of British stoicism in the face of absolute charade, a play that revels in its mayhem and one that if you haven’t laughed at during spells doom for British theatre; in much the same way that the ravens learning they can leave the Tower of London would spell the end of centuries tradition, so to if not laughing at arguably one of the great comedies of all time would cause a rip in the curtain of the English language.

The beauty of Noises Off resides squarely in its second act, it is the dance of desperation, the shuffle of panic and the ballet of unrelenting misery that makes the play so outstanding, without this second act waltz of worry and distraction, the play would not be the farce of genuine comedy contentment or indeed arguably the finest stage comedy of the 20th Century, if it was not for the tango between the players as they flit panic stricken for cues, lines, sardines and entangled love lives that breathe with effortless glee.

Get this second act wrong and the play descends into farce of war, anarchy would reign and in the end distraction would only be seen in the shuffling feet of the audience aching under the intense pressure of wanting to enjoy the production. For The Northern Comedy Theatre group, the waltz of the second act, the intermingling of lives that are falling apart and fraying at the very edges of their sanity, is framed with utmost conviction and delicate handling; the dance of scurrying feet and lines wrapped in pathos is captivating and sincere, a true delight of the play.

In the role of Director Lloyd Dallas, Tom Platt excels, this conductor of unintended mayhem is understandably pivotal in the chaos to come, weaving his way through the whims, desires, requirements of the cast members underneath his almighty but sun damaged wings, takes great skill in the actor portraying the off edge theatrical megalomaniac. All directors need to be dogmatic in their approach, bombastic, even contemptuous of their cast but to see it played so well is to spur on the heart of comedic endeavour.

With Vikki Earle as aspiring actress Brooke Ashton/Vicki and Alec Walters as Garry LeJeune/Roger Tramplemain adding to the collective lawlessness of the farce, Noises Off maintains its position of a true great piece of theatrical art, a play of absurdly beautiful purity.

Ian D. Hall