Noises Off, Theatre Royal, Bath Review

Michael Frayn’s rib-tickling comedy Noises Off is as funny as ever – this is the 40th anniversary production – the plot is a play within a play format : a fictional farce aptly named Nothing On is lurching from crisis to crisis doing the rounds of the provinces. The opening night is a disaster in Weston-Super-Mare a pattern repeated on its gyration to all points north ending at Stockton-on-Tees.

The all-star cast, headed by Liza Goddard, Simon Shepherd and Matthew Kelly are outstanding as their characters blunder their way through the machinations of the play, giving the audience a real insight into what goes on behind the scenes and provoking much laughter along the way.

Liza Goddard takes the role of Dotty Otley playing the bumbling housekeeper Mrs Clackett mostly in charge of a plate of sardines which are never in the right place. Matthew Kelly as the permanently sloshed Selsdon Mowbray, noted only as ‘burglar’ in Nothing On’s programme, is hilarious for his ill-timed and many entries through the French windows, always an indispensable prop for a farce. Simon Shepherd attempts to keep everybody in order as Lloyd Dallas the director with a flawless classical theatre background, but alas Lloyd’s real interest isn’t Shakespeare but the ladies.



Simon Coates as upper crust Frederick Fellowes playing Philip Brent who is hiding from the tax inspector was hilarious, lost trousers (no farce is complete without this), nosebleeds and all. Lucy Robinson as Belinda Blair his wife was great, especially funny in the second half behind scenes which is mostly in mime.

Dan Fredenburgh made us cry with laughter as Garry Lejeune an estate agent hoping to find an empty house in which to have his wicked way with Brooke Ashton. We salute his energy and spectacular way of coming down a long flight of stairs (but don’t try this at home) and ditsy and rather gormless Brooke was played to excellent comedic effect by Lisa Ambalavanar.

Also on call are Tim (Daniel Rainford) the back of house underling who is required to do just about everything from erecting the set, buying flowers for the director’s mistresses and coming on at a moment’s notice in whatever part is suddenly without an actor, together with Nikhita Lesler as Poppy Norton-Taylor, hiding a guilty secret whilst being responsible for continuity, prompts and props (those sardines again).

This is top drawer farce all performed at terrific pace with impeccable timing through multiple door slamming, prop failure, and much trouser loss. We enjoyed this so much and haven’t had such a good laugh in ages; the excellent cast deserve a full house every night so just go and see them!

Jacquie Vowles

Box Office: 01225 448844

Theatre Royal Bath, Sawclose, Bath BA1 1ET



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