Theatre Review: NOISES OFF – The Lowry, Salford

The cast of NOISES OFF UK Tour. Photo Credit: Pamela Raith

Inventive, fast-paced and witty, NOISES OFF hasn’t lost an ounce of its humour or heart, even after four decades.

4 out of 5 stars

Long before the hilarity of THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG and the mystery of CURTAINS came the timeless comedy gem NOISES OFF. Since 1982, Michael Frayn’s uproarious play-within-a-play has been delighting audiences. Now, it’s back at The Lowry, returning after a triumphant West End run, celebrating its 40th anniversary in all its chaotic glory.

NOISES OFF invites us into the frenzied world of a touring theatre company struggling through the production of the fictional farce “Nothing On.” In three acts, we witness the chaos: actors squabble during rehearsals in the first act, backstage sabotage unfolds in the second, and by the final act, the play has completely fallen apart on tour.

Matthew Kelly in NOISES OFF. Photo Credit: Pamela Raith

Director Lindsay Posner masterfully orchestrates this rollercoaster of comedy, ensuring a tight and fast-paced performance that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats.

Simon Higlett’s inventive two-storey mansion set maximises the comedic effect, while Ruth Cooper-Brown’s intricate choreography ensures seamless movement of the cast, adding to the overall hilarity. The second act, set backstage, is particularly brilliant, focusing on the offstage antics.

This classic farce is packed with humour: double entendres, mistaken identities, rapid entrances and exits—all brilliantly delivered in Frayn’s sharp dialogue. While the script might limit character depth, the talented cast compensates with their impeccable timing and physical comedy.

The cast of NOISES OFF UK Tour. Photo Credit: Pamela Raith

Olivier-winner Matthew Kelly is great fun throughout as ageing alcoholic Selsdon Mowbray, while Liza Goddard delivers perfect comic timing and pathos to her role as doddery Dotty.

Elsewhere, Simon Shepherd skillfully navigates between frustration and physical comedy as Director Lloyd Dallas, and Dan Fredenburgh delivers superb physical comedy as the neurotic Garry. A special shoutout also goes to Lucy Robinson as gossipy Belinda, adding depth to her character with surprising maternal moments.

Of course, the charm of classic farce lies in its unexpected twists, and for those who are familiar with NOISES OFF, the surprise element might lose some of its impact upon a second viewing.

Nevertheless, in 2023, this production continues to captivate, proving that even after four decades, NOISES OFF hasn’t lost an ounce of its humour or heart.

NOISES OFF runs at The Lowry, Salford, until 21 October 2023