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Review: NOISES OFF, Pitlochry Festival Theatre

The Michael Frayn farce celebrates its 40th anniversary!

Review: NOISES OFF, Pitlochry Festival Theatre

Review: NOISES OFF, Pitlochry Festival Theatre Forty years on from its debut at the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre in London in 1982, Michael Fryan's farce-within-a-farce, Noises Off, returns to Pitlochry Festival Theatre as part of their 2022 summer season. The comedy was last performed in Pitlochry in 2010 and this marks the first professional version of the show in the UK post-lockdown.

Noises Off follow the antics of a hapless cast and crew as they prepare to tour their show, Nothing On, around the remotest of regional theatres. Featuring action both on and offstage, the audience is initially immersed in a tense technical rehearsal ahead of opening night and the chaos only grows as the night goes on.

First, we meet Dotty, an endearingly forgetful housekeeper with a penchant for sardines, played by Deirdre Davis. Her fellow band of actors includes Connor Going as Garry Lejeune, a property agent who never quite gets to the, well, you know, point, as he tries to woo Rachael McAllister, who plays the easily distractable Brooke.

Keith Jack plays the determined Frederick Fellowes, questioning every acting and direction choice he is given to hilarious effect, alongside Alyson Orr's Belinda Blair, whose prop-swapping shenanigans only add more confusion to the action on stage. Keith Macpherson completes the cast on stage as the extensively elusive and unpredictable Selsdon Mowbray.

The ever-exasperated backstage crew includes Meg Chaplin as Poppy and Richard Colvin, and at the helm is Marc Small, playing the increasingly irate director, Lloyd Dallas.

Liz Cooke's costume design includes vintage flairs and floral gowns aplenty, fitting in nicely with the Cotswald-esque stone-paneled interior - with many doors and passageways for fast-paced door-slamming drama. Peter Fennel's fairly minimal lighting design bookmarks scenes and even provides a gag at one stage later in the show.

Robin Hellier's fight direction ensures the high-stakes moments are safe, when the cast turn on each other, and Kevin Murray's sound design ensures we can hear the action happening both behind and in front of set pieces.

Ben Occhipinti's direction ensures the energy doesn't drop for a second, however, this occasionally leads to a lack of clarity on key elements of what was actually happening, despite the nature of the show. For example, it was initially hard to distinguish exactly who had fallen out with each other at the top of Act II. That said, the audience at this particular performance was certainly enjoying themselves.

For fans of farce, Noises Off certainly fits the bill and is a fun night out.

Noises Off at Pitlochry Festival Theatre on selected dates until 1 October

Photo credit: Fraser Band




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BWW Review: NOISES OFF, Pitlochry Festival Theatre
June 5, 2022

Forty years on from its debut at the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre in London in 1982, Michael Fryan’s farce-within-a-farce, Noises Off, returns to Pitlochry Festival Theatre as part of their 2022 summer season. The comedy was last performed in Pitlochry in 2010 and this marks the first professional version of the show in the UK post-lockdown.