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Noises Off - Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC)

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by Claudia Bianchi (subscribe)
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A Comedy Masterpiece

On Thursday, 8th of June I saw what can only be described as a side-splitting chaotic masterpiece all about boxes and sheets, and doors and a whole lot of sardines.

Noises Off
, written by Michael Frayn and presented by Queensland Theatre in collaboration with Melbourne Theatre Company is showing now at QPAC through to the 25th of June at The Playhouse.

The Plot:

This brilliant play, is a play within in play appropriately named 'Nothing On' and fictionally written by 'Robin Housemonger'

nothing on, noises off, queensland theatre , melbourne theatre company.
The play within the play - Nothing On.

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.

Written by: Michael Frayn

Director: Sam Strong


Simon Burke - Lloyd Dallas / Director

Louise Siversen - Dotty / Mrs Clackett

Ray Chong Nee - Garry Lejeune / Roger Tremplemain

Emily Goddard - Poppy Norton-Taylor / ASM

Libby Munro - Brooke Ashton / Vicki

Hugh Parker - Freddie Fellowes / Philip Brent

James Saunders - Tim Allgood / SM

Steven Tandy - Selsdon Mowbray / Burglar

Nicki Wendt - Belinda Blair / Flavia Brent
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Why? A side splitting fun night at the theatre
When: Tuesday through to Sundays
Phone: 136 246
Where: The Playhouse - Qpac
Cost: $55 - $86
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