Noises Off Review

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Theatre director Lloyd Fellowes is struggling against all the odds to . He's desperately trying to get his production together, despite the best efforts of everyone else involved. Romances and arguments break out and quite often the backstage antics are more dramatic than that evening's performance.


This Americanisation of Michael Frayn’s long-running West End comedy is reasonably amusing for about two of its necessarily stagey three acts; amusing, that is, if you have a soft spot for the backstage dramas it is attempting to spoof, and for farce of a highly frantic nature.

The story revolves around a second-rate, Broadway-bound theatrical company rehearsing the fictitious but archetypal London stage farce, Nothing On, in a theatre in Des Moines, Iowa. The troupe — including Carol Burnett’s neurotic leading lady, Christopher Reeve’s “What’s my motivation?” ham and Nicollette Sheridan’s nitwit “bird” running about in her scanties — spend their time between bouts of delivering quite the worst English accents ever heard on stage airing their professional grievances, sexual rivalries and personal idiocies backstage.

The scene thus set, we head for the Miami engagement, where the plot thickens during an eventful matinee, and thence to the Cleveland preview, where the backstage feuds boil over into a catastrophic slapstick performance.

Peter Bogdanovich knows his screwball comedy well enough to pull off the choreography of in-one-door-out-the-other antics with some gleefully precise timing, and having a cast packed with comic pros like John Ritter, Julie Hagerty and Mark Linn-Baker, as well as the excellent Caine and Elliot, certainly helps.

The jokes start wearing thin, and most of the noisy characters become rather tedious well before the rag-bag of thesps finally pitch up on Broadway