Noises Off, Novello Theatre, June 2012
I am beginning to think that my theatre outings really are doomed - I promise I've never called the Scottish Play by its real name in a theatre!
This long arranged trip had the potential to become a logistical nightmare. A family bereavement meant I needed to be in Swindon at funeral on the morning of this trip, then the train was late and to cap it all the Circle Line suddenly stopped being a circle and was more of a horse-shoe missing out the area I needed to be.
I'd been so busy before this trip that I had absolutely no idea what Noises Off was about other than a play rehearsal. When I got to the theatre and saw it was by Michael Frayn my heart sank a little further - despite many good intentions (and enticing book blurbs) I've never yet managed to finish anything that the man has written.
On top of all this was the worry that after such a day, was a farce really what I needed?
The old adage that laughter is the best medicine could not have been truer.
From pretty much the second the curtain rose I was giggling, and by the time Act 1 had finished and Act 1 had started I was laughing out right. By Act 1 I really thought I would cry with laughter. The play actually started before the curtain rose but that only became apparent as the story unfolded but I know that my companion and I were a little bemused by the pre-show announcements for a while.
The basic premise of the play is that Act 1 shows a play in the final dress rehearsal but that it isn't really ready to be performed. Act 1 then shows the same play but from behind the scenes, the final Act 1 is the same play but on the closing night when the cast have fallen out entirely and the show can barely go on.
Watching the same play three times in two and a bit hours shouldn't work but the energy of the script and the actors makes it a wonderful theatrical experience. The act that takes place behind the scenes is comedy genius and how the actors perform the stunts time after time without hurting themselves amazes me. I shall never look at cactus in quite the same way again!
I've never taken part in any theatrical show (apart from a school play when I was 14) but having read a few biographies and novels set in the world of theatre I think that although taken to the extreme there is more than a grain of truth in this play.
I am so glad that I did see it despite so many events conspiring against me, and I find it hard to see how anything I see at the theatre for a considerable time can be as funny.