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Review: Noises Off at Newcastle Northern Stage

The Farce That Goes Wrong!

Nottingham Playhouse Theatre Company, Northern Stage and Nuffield present:

Photo: Robert Day
Noises Off
NewcastleNorthern Stage
Until Saturday 28th May 2016

Writer Michael Frayn
Directed by Blanche McIntyre
Designer Robert Innes Hopkins
Lighting Designer Jason Taylor
SoundDesigner George Dennis

Noises Off is a hilarious farce within a farce. It does for farces what The Play That Goes Wrong does for murder mysteries, it is a clever look in to the chaos that can lie behind getting a show onto the stage.

Photo: Robert Day
The show begins during the over running technical rehearsal of a play about the home of playwright, Frederick Fellows (John Elkington), who is in tax exile in Spain. He has left his house in the care of Dotty (Carla Mendonça) who simply wants to enjoy some sardines and watch the Royals on tv.

Photo: Robert Day
The house agent that is looking after the rental of the house decides to make use of the house thinking that it is Dotty’s half day off. Agent Gary (Patrick Osborne) has bought champagne in order to entertain tax inspector Brooke (Sophia Nomvete).

Photo: Robert Day
As Gary and Brooke head off to the bedroom, the owners of the house  Frederick and Belinda (Becci Gemmell) decide to return for their anniversary.

Photo: Robert Day
The tech rehearsal is not without problems. Director Lloyd (Orlando Wells) struggles to ensure the props are in the right place and that the set works. He is assisted by deputy stage manager Poppy (Ritu Arya) and crew member Tim (Brian Lonsdale).  Lloyd’s problems are exacerbated by the decision to cast the long in the tooth former-star, who has a drink problem, Selsdon Mowbray (Robin Bowerman).

Photo: Robert Day
The first act follows the problems of trying to get a show ready in the early hours of the day in which it opens. They have only had a fortnight to rehearse and hence the sardines and doors are not always in the right positions.  In an amusing act, the audience meet the cast members and see how their idiosyncratic behaviours rub off on one another.

Photo: Robert Day
In the second act the show moves to later in the plays run and, cleverly, the set is reversed to reveal the mayhem behind the set.   This is the real treat of the production. As the play is running on the other side of the set the cast are silent as they fall out with one another. It is like a modern silent film like The Plank. The regular slapstick moments had the Northern Stage audience in regular laughter. 

Photo: Robert Day
Like all good comedy, this show is very tight and the cast do a brilliant job in keeping the action flowing.  There are no weak links in the talented ensemble. Director Blanche McIntyre has ensured that the action is constantly flowing and each character is given a chance to be liked by the audience. This acceptance of the odd ball cast helps make the climaxes more entertaining.

Photo: Robert Day
The set design by Robert Innes Hopkins and sound design by George Dennis both play their part in setting up many of the funny scenarios. No joke is repeated too often that they become tired. In fact the show had a nicely fresh feel to it.

Photo: Robert Day
Noises Off is a very funny show that has great comic timing from a very talented and likeable cast.   A splendid way to spend an evening at Northern Stage.

Photo: Robert Day
This review was written by Stephen Oliver for Jowheretogo PR ( Follow Jo on twitter @jowheretogo, Stephen @panic_c_button or like Jowheretogo on Facebook

Full cast:

Photo: Robert Day
RITU ARYA – Poppy Norton Taylor
ROBIN BOWERMAN - Selsdon Mowbray
JOHN ELKINGTON – Frederick Fellowes
BECCI GEMMELL - Belinda Blair
SOPHIA NOMVETE – Brooke Ashton
ORLANDO WELLS – Lloyd Dallas
On The Web
Interview with director Blanche McIntyre:

Photo: Robert Day
Tue - Fri & Sat matinees:
£24, £19.50, £14.50
Students/Under 21s: £12
Concessions Available

Saturday Evenings:
14 May, 21 May, 28 May -
£25, £19.50, £14.50
Students/Under 21s: £12
Concessions Available 
Post-show discussion: Tue 17 May
Tickets and Information: 0191 230 5151
Book online:  


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