Noises Off


Performed:
18th
-
20th November
1999
Acted by: Directed by: Written by:
Masham Players would like to thank the above for their participation!

Plot

M6 F4. A living-room stage set, backstage behind the set

This clever, smash-hit farce won numerous awards. "The play opens with a touring company dress-rehearsing Nothing On, a conventional farce. Mixing mockery and homage, Frayn heaps into this play-within-a-play a hilarious melée of stock characters and situations. Caricatures - cheeky char, outraged wife and squeaky blonde - stampede in and out of doors. Voices rise and trousers fall ... a farce that makes you think as well as laugh." Times Literary Supplement.

 

 

A farce about a farce, taking the cliches of the genre and shaking them inventively through a series of kaleidoscopic patterns. Never missing a trick, it has as its first  act a pastiche of traditional farce; as its second, a contemporary variant on the formula; as its third, an elaborate undermining of it. The play opens with a touring company dress-rehearsing Nothing On, a conventional farce. Mixing mockery and homage, Frayn heaps into this play-within-a-play a hilarious melee of stock characters and situations. Cariacatures - cheery char, outraged wife and squeaky blonde - stampede in and out of doors. Voices rise and trousers fall...a farce that makes you think as well as laugh.

 

This is one of the most challenging plays for amateurs to perform because of its technical staging. A split level set with at least seven doors has to be reversed not once but twice during the show. Act two demands the utmost concentration to time mimed actions backstage with the dialogue 'on stage'. It was decided to attempt this play because it was our final offering of the twentieth century.

 

One notable comment made by an audience member after seeing Masham Players brilliant showing of 'Noises Off' was: "I understand that play now. I've seen it done proffessionally and have never been able to follow it" Whatever the reasons for that feeling, WELL DONE to all those involved.

 

NOISES OFF BY MICHEAL FRAYNE

This was a critique written by Hilary Trenholme November 1999.

 

          Three capacity audiences proved that Masham Players succeeded in this. Masham Players achieved the all but impossible with this production.

          Noises off is a convoluted play presenting every kind of challenge. Mrs Marjorie Tate, the director never wavered in her faith that all would be alright on the night. How right she was. That a small amateur should take up that challenge, confounded all who

           Michael Frayne’s play is a farce. More than that it is a wickedly clever parody of a farce. He takes all the basic ingredients, the obligatory series of doors, the dropping of trousers, the disguises, the seemingly simple situations which escalate into near chaos and he has added the dimension of a play within a play. A second rate touring company, with all its backstage mix of personalities fights a losing battle with the plot of a third rate play. In the first act, the players are in desperate rehearsal as Curtain up time rushes at them, then the second act sees a reversal of the complex scenery, when the drama of the private lives of the players makes a nightmare of the production which can be heard through the movement and miming of those still waiting in the wings. It has been said that this set, and I quote “is the most difficult single act to perform ever written”. It is fast, furious and funny. Every trick ever employed in farce turns up. Here are the running gags, the flayling of a fire axe- the lost contact lenses, the cactus thorns, the disappearing plates of sardines and slamming doors.  That an amateur group could take it on and succeed so brilliantly is just about beyond belief.

            With the set changed again the third act descends into desperation. The show must go on, the crises continue, all on stage just about past caring, but the real audience is completely carried away in helpless hilarity. The play is a masterpiece and Masham Players did it full justice. “Brilliant” was a word heard over and over again as the audience reluctantly left the hall.

          A cast of 9 made a remarkable team, and did all that was demanded of them- which was two hours of concentration, on a complicated script and two level set, they were slick, polished and showed exceptional talent.

           The newcomers appeared experienced troupers. Libby Hancock, Beth Sinfield and Jonathan Trenholme are to be congratulated on the way they coped with the mayhem which is “Noises Off”. All deserve a detailed account of their achievements, which space denies them. The six established players were Kate Stewart, Yvonne Reid, Bob Taylor, Don Briggs, Brian Gregg and Mark Exelby. Yvonne deserves special congratulation because she took over her role with only three weeks to go. All the players were totally absorbed by their adopted characters. This was an ensemble playing of an extremely high level, and each deserves individual recognition.

              The backstage team outnumbered the cast. Douglas Marr planned the set, which had to be both mobile and secure.

          It fully deserved the spontaneous applause it received each evening. Amongst the many others who laboured long and hard, both before production and on the night were Bob Brown, Paul Simms, Gareth Jones, Roger Nightingale, Andrew Smith, Allan Bailey, Jonathan Trenholme and Dorothy Brownless. Andrew Smith and Roger Nightingale also took over the exacting responsibilities of lighting and sound. Brenda Lewis, Jean Hodgson and Dorothy Brownless coped with the many props. Joan Allen as Prompt was an unheard voice.

           This was a tremendous effort which succeeded at every level- a wonderful windup to the Millennium and 54 years of live theatre in Masham.

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