A
 
Web www.artsmart.co.za
A R T S M A R T
arts news from kwazulu-natal

festivals
www.artsmart.co.za
enquiries@artsmart.co.za
 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
 

NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

NOISES OFF (article first published : 2005-07-9)

“Noises off” in theatre parlance means that during the action on stage, something happens out of the audience’s sight but not out of their hearing. This could be a crash as someone bashes into something, causing comment from the stage or perhaps it’s the sound of indistinguishable voices indicating that people are approaching, or a clatter of pots and pans as there is a hiatus in an unseen kitchen.

Michael Frayn aptly titled his brilliant and now-classic production, Noises Off, referring not only to the legitimate and scripted sounds as part of comedy action but as noises the audience shouldn’t hear when something goes wrong backstage.

To add to the enjoyment of this scenario, Frayne turns his set around – not once, but twice, so that we can see what is happening throughout a period of time from both a front and back stage viewpoint. It’s a convoluted situation and a props nightmare, not to mention that there are no less than eight doors through which the action must continue at breakneck speed.

Noises Off opens on the final technical rehearsal (no time for a dress rehearsal) of a traditional sex farce titled Nothing On. It’s nearly midnight and the cast is tired and irritable, some pre-occupied with personal problems, some still trying to find the motivation behind their roles and others just trying to keep the peace. Seated in the auditorium, the weary director less than patiently exhorts his cast to get their entrances and exits correct – let alone, lines!, nag the crew to fix doors that won’t open and actually get through the act before the following night’s opening, after which he goes off to direct a production of Richard III in Aberystwyth. To make things worse, one of his cast members is deaf and has a tendency to hit the bottle!

The story of Nothing On is set in the home of tax exiles. The housekeeper is preparing to sit down with a plate of sardines (strange choice!) and watch a function involving Royalty on the television. She only has black and white at home and this one’s in colour. Suddenly, her quietly ordered life falls apart and so the show continues. That plate of sardines must go down in history as forming one of the most incongruous vehicles for humour!

The first act is important in that the “play within a play” gets set in the audience’s minds. The second act sees the play from backstage where relationships have become strained in certain areas and the former lovers are at each other’s throats. The third act reverts to front stage again, by which time everything is falling apart and the actors valiantly try to keep the action going under hilarious conditions.

Presented by Pieter Toerien Productions and directed by Christopher Weare, this fine production of Noises Off premiered on the main of the National Arts Festival. Ralph Lawson is tailor-made for the part of the long-suffering caustic-tongued director. He is supported by an excellent cast that includes Alan Committie, Neville Thomas, Robyn Scott, Julie Hartley, Jenny Stead, Pierre Malherbe, Henri Landon and Daniel Barnett.

There are two performances in July 9 at 14h00 and 19h00 at the Victoria Theatre. It’s a good way to end a great festival! - Caroline Smart

The production is supported by the National Arts Council




 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
a co-production by caroline smart services and .durbanet. site credits
copyright © subsists in this page. all rights reserved. [ edit ] copyright details  artsmart