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See the mayhem of theatre up close
If you've ever been involved with the theatre – forget that, if you've ever been on the fringes of a project that is slowly dissolving into chaos, you're probably going to enjoy Noises Off. The 1982 play by Michael Frayn still has resonance for theatregoers today, and 5pound's blink-and-you'll-miss-it season has made it even more contemporary.
5pound is embarking on another repertory season
In the Owl and the Pussycat's tiny theatre space, the highly complicated set and constant action of Noises Off fits in surprisingly well. From the moment that Colin Craig (both playing and being front of house for the season) gives his opening announcement, the audience is let in on the private gags of Melbourne's theatre community. Jason Cavanagh, stepping out of his role as creative director for 5pound, is frightfully good as the frustrated director character (although as the production's director, the line between reality and acting is more than blurry). The cast are strong across the board, with Tom Wotherspoon being a particular stand-out in his interpretation of Garry Lejeune. Jess Hackett, who has to be given kudos for spending most of the play in underwear, is another stand-out, bringing something deeper to her interpretation of the Brooke Ashton role that's not often seen in the play's token bimboesque character.
The direction is what brings it all together. Cavanagh's thrown away the fourth wall for this one, changing all character names to the actors' real names and bringing local references in to replace any Americanisms.
The play's the opener for 5pound's annual repertory season, and it's a good choice. The energy's frenetic. The characters are distinctive but likeable, and the gags just never stop. For an opening to a five-week season, each week offering up a new play, it hits just the right note for audience enthusiasm.
Noises Off isn't an easy play. The script demands split-second timing and a constant stream of physical gags. The cast had just six days to pull the production together, but there's no 'despite this' about it – this is a solid production that could hold its own against those with longer schedules and bigger budgets.