Felicity Kendall as Dotty, Alexander Hanson as Lloyd, and Tracy-Ann Oberman as Belinda
in Noises Off, London 2023
Photo by Nobby Clark
058 – Noises Off, by Michael Frayn
Michael Frayn’s iconic comedy Noises Off is a farce about putting on a farce, in which a touring theatre company stage a dated British sex farce entitled Nothing On. As the hapless actors struggle to remember their lines and hit their queues, Frayn gives us a glimpse backstage of the mechanics of theatre, and of the disintegrating relationships of the cast as they toil through their interminable regional tour. Noises Off is a work of theatrical genius. Its parody of second-rate theatre-making is delivered with extraordinary invention and immaculate timing, while it also highlights the humanity of its characters as they stumble through the chaos of the production and their lives.
The play premiered at the Lyric theatre in Hammersmith in 1982, before transferring to the Savoy Theatre, where it won the Evening Standard award for Best Comedy and ran for 5 years with five successive casts. It was produced on Broadway in 1983, where the famed New York theatre critic Frank Rich called it the funniest play written in his lifetime. To mark its 40th anniversary, the Theatre Royal Bath mounted a revival, that as we record this episode arrives on stage at the Phoenix theatre in London’s West End in an hilarious production directed by Lindsay Posner.
I’m absolutely delighted to be joined today by Lindsay Posner, who has the distinction of having directed Noises Off twice in his distinguished career. What could possibly go wrong?!
PS You may also enjoy our episode with Michael Frayn on his play Copenhagen.
Lindsay Posner has a remarkable list of theatrical credits as a director, both in the UK and internationally. He has directed Noises Off on two occasions: first at the Old Vic Theatre in 2011, and then most recently at Theatre Royal Bath in 2022, which as we recorded our episode arrived at the Phoenix Theatre in London’s West End. At the same time, his production of Edward Albee’s classic Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf was running on the Ustinov stage at the Theatre Royal in Bath.
Lindsay was Associate Director at the Royal Court Theatre from 1987-1992.
We’ve included a list of Lindsay’s other credits on his Guest page: Lindsay Posner.
Lindsay recommended The Truth by Florian Zeller.
The Footnotes to our episode on Michael Frayn’s comic masterpiece Noises Off include extracts from the fictional programme to Nothing On, the play-within-the-play, and a reprisal of one of the best jokes in the play.
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Photo by Helen Murray.
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