Where's Peen been?
The Old Vic, London
Was Peen keen?
A delightful comedy where many doors slam repeatedly on the faces of many budding actors – and probably their careers. Whilst the cast of Nothing On (the play within this play) should look for careers as far away from the stage as possible, the cast of Noises Off will be stunning audiences every night that they perform.
Lloyd Dallas is directing this production of Nothing On to go on a mini tour from Weston-Super-Mare to Ashton-under-Lyne and Stockton-on-Tees, but it’s far from the easiest job he’s ever had. Directing a cast of six ‘lovey doveys’ and a partially deaf old man (playing the burglar in Nothing On) should not be considered a day at the park. We see 3 acts in Noises Off – all of which are Act One of Nothing On – and each time it descends further into sheer mayhem; it opens with the maid explaining how the homeowner does live in the house, but doesn’t live in the house anymore because he lives in Spain – immediately, we know we’re in for a treat. Michael Frayns most well-known backstage farce shows two different perspectives to theatre: audience member and backstage, both of which reduce you to tears with laughter. The cast dashes about the stage and tries time and time again to get their lines and stage directions correct: “Doors and sardines. Getting on – getting off. Getting the sardines on – getting the sardines off. That’s farce. That’s the theatre. That’s life.” Yet still, to the audience’s satisfaction, they struggle.
It’s the kind of thing where you can’t imagine what else could go wrong – and then somehow, something does. By the end, the cast of Nothing On have given up completely, and the director has accidentally ended up on stage playing the same part as two others actors, and nobody knows how.
Lindsay Posner’s version of Noises Off should be celebrated. The faultless and incredibly slick direction along with perfect performances from the entire cast makes this perfectly staged, unmitigated disaster something that definitely should not be missed – a tremendous effort.