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NOISES OFF (article first published : 2005-09-9)

Michael Frayn’s brilliant and hilarious Noises Off can be enjoyed by one and all, particularly those who have ever been involved in plays or the theatre industry as a whole. The Drama and Performance Studies programme at the University of KwaZulu-Natal will stage an all-too-short weekend season of Noises Off from September 14 to 17 at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre.

Noises Off is a delicious comedy about a theatrical touring company playing a farce. The play is split into three parts – the first is a final dress rehearsal for one of those traditional farces where buxom gals frolic about in their underwear, men drop their trousers and everyone gets caught in a compromising position in the wrong bedroom saying something with multiple meanings and innuendos. In the second act, the set is completely reversed and we (the real audience) get to see what actually goes on behind the scenes of the play – the entrances, the exits, the props, the mistakes and the mishaps as the hectic farce gets underway revealing the relationships, complexities and problems of the actors. In the final part, we see the farewell performance of the show with a cast either inebriated or lovesick or both. There is feuding and slapstick and anything that can go wrong, does! Banisters collapse, sardines are flung, handles come off doors, masonry falls and everything – gleefully – gets horribly out of control!

Director Tamar Meskin directs a top notch cast of campus-based performers – experienced undergraduates and post-graduates in a contemporary staging of this fabulous work. Design is by Mervyn McMurtry.

Michael Frayn will be known to Durban audiences for his award-winning complex drama Copenhagen which was directed by Maurice Podbrey some years back and received critical acclaim. Frayn’s 16th play – the multi-award winning Democracy which was set in the Cold War was highly acclaimed in London’s West End last year. His Noises Off ran for nearly five years at the Savoy Theatre and was also produced on Broadway. He has written a number of screenplays including Clockwise with John Cleese and ten novels. Noises Off was made into a popular movie with Michael Caine and Carol Burnett.

Noises Off will be presented at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre from September 14 to 17 with performances at 20h00. There will also be early shows on September 16 and 17 at 17h00. Tickets R35 (R15 concessions). Bookings through Claudette Wagner on 031 260 3134 between 08h30 and 13h00 weekdays. Bookings can also be made via email wagnerc1@ukzn.ac.za or fax 031 260 1410.




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