During the three acts of Noises Off, we only ever get to see act one of 'Nothing On'. In the first act, we watch and cringe during technical rehearsal that heavily involves the actors driving the director mad.
Lloyd Dallas (Simon Burke) had me in stitches as the director's voice in the dark patiently or rather not so patiently droning on 'You hang up the receiver… and you take the sardines', 'Leave the sardines and you take the newspaper. The newspaper… you leave the sardines and you take the newspaper' - you can hear the dry exasperation in his tone as they forget their lines and miss all their cues.
The actors' copious interruptions and 'feelings' stretch out into the early hours and it becomes clear that they painfully unprepared.
In the second act, the stage flips around and we have a backstage view of the show's matinée performance. Hilarity follows as the cast personal relationship issues take over backstage and complete mayhem erupts.
Nose bleeds, an axe, a shoe-tying prank lead to a total disruption of the play. It is a heady yet hilarious reminder of why some say that workplace relationships are rarely a good idea.
By the time the third act comes around, we are back at viewing 'Nothing On' as the audience. As you hold your cheeks in pain (from all the laughing) you can't help but to pity directors and actors everywhere as the show tragically falls apart at the seams. It is utterly brilliant.
I can't help but wonder what the real rehearsals were like. How do they maintain a straight face and not break with such great material? The show has so many moving parts that without the right cast or direction it could easily be a disastrous event.
Gratefully the seasoned cast did not miss a beat. The story was captured scene by scene with perfect comedic timing.
There is usually a stand out performance but I found this ensemble equally matched. Every actor raising the bar an inch higher as the show played out.
I introduced a friend of mine to the theatre that Thursday night. I am sure he didn't know what to expect but I knew in my soul that if he gave it half a chance Queensland Theatre would win him over. I snuck a few peaks at his face during the show hoping he was enjoying it as much as I was. High definition smiles and a several barked laughs had me grinning in triumph.
He said that 'It was chaos, pure unadulterated, hilarious, slightly ridiculous – chaos' and that he was simply in awe of their abilities, performance and story. I couldn't agree more.
Grab your tickets and take friend. Noises Off is comedy gold.