Reviewed by Brian Godfrey
They say that laughter is the best medicine. Well, if that is true then the Rep’s latest production, Noises Off, has cornered the pharmaceutical industry with it.
Michael Frayn’s theatrical farce within a farce has more than stood the test of time. It has been entertaining audiences around the world for almost 41 years and still works. Over three acts we witness, from onstage and backstage, a typical farce, “Nothing On”, as it proceeds (or perhaps recedes) over the course of time on its National Tour. We also witness the progression (or again, the regression) of the actors involved.
Director David Sinclair pulls every comedic rabbit out of the hat for this recent production and succeeds wonderfully. Sinclair, like the author, understands what makes audiences laugh and just throws it at us one frenetic moment after another. He also has a talent and reputation of selecting the right cast for the job – and boy! has he done that in spades with this production. This cast of nine is absolutely top notch when it comes to making an audience laugh. They are all absolutely hilarious!
As the director of “Nothing On”, Lloyd, Peter Davies uses his beautifully resonant voice to extremely good use and makes us love his frustration and sarcasm when dealing with over-sensitive actors.
It needs to be pointed out here for clarity that the actors are playing actors playing their character in “Nothing On”. The ever wonderful Julie Quick (Dotty/Mrs Clackett) is the quintessential ‘housekeeper’ that every good farce needs but just don’t give her (as Dotty) props because doing things and speaking ‘the words’ at the same time is getting a bit beyond her. Quick is a hoot! As young leading man Gary Lejeune, Thomas Filsel gives his ‘actor’ a very believable Welsh accent, which he can switch on and off at the drop of a hat (his character in the ‘farce’ is English) and his physicality and energy levels allow him to almost steal the show, particularly in Act Three.
Ian Rigney makes a nice welcome back to the Adelaide stage as the ageing, somewhat alcoholic Selsdon Mowbray ‘playing’ the Burglar. Whilst delivering the laughs, Rigney also manages to make us sympathise with Selsdon – not an easy thing to do in a hugely laugh-out-loud comedy.
Brad Martin is excellent as the actor who needs logic for his moves and is somewhat over-sensitive whilst trying to be sensitive to others. Martin does this so well, that there is one bit in Act One where he made the opening night audience sigh in sympathy for the ‘actor’.
As Belinda Blair, the slightly gossipy actor with a persistent “the show must go on no matter what” attitude, Robyn Brookes shows that she is not only a great musical theatre performer, but that her sense of comedy timing is spot on. Cassie Gaiter is delightfully dumb as monotonal Brooke Ashton, giving the ‘actor’ wonderfully stiff robotic movements when ‘acting’.
As the hardworking, put upon ‘crew’, Tim and Poppy, Jamie Wright and Maxine Grubel round out this great cast with nicely tuned relatable characterisations from both.
Without giving anything away for those few who don’t know the play, the set plays an incredibly vital part in the production and the Set Construction team of Stanley Tuck and Barry Blakebrough need to be heartily congratulated. Lighting Design by Richard Parkhill is once again nicely unobtrusive.
This is an extremely funny play done extremely well, so don’t be extremely angry with yourself by missing out on seeing it or you will be making Noises Off.