THE 40th anniversary production of Michael Frayn’s achingly funny farce, Noises Off, a play-within-a-play about an old-fashioned touring rep company, comes to Poole’s Lighthouse arts centre from 10th to 14th October, after its week-long run at Bath – see Review section.
This Theatre Royal Bath production, directed by Lindsay Posner, stars Liza Goddard as the veteran star of the company, Dottie Otley, Matthew Kelly as the elderly, alcoholic actor Selsdon Mowbray and Simon Shepherd as the director, whose tangled love life is a key feature of the framing “play.”
Noises Off follows the on-and-off-stage antics of a touring company as they stumble their way through a fictional farce, Nothing On. From the shambolic final rehearsals before opening night in Weston-Super-Mare, to a disastrous matinee in on to the final, brilliantly catastrophic performance in Stockton-on-Tees.
Liza Goddard, who has performed at Bath’s Theatre Royal in 21 productions in 30 years, also works extensively on television, where her work includes The Brothers, Doctor Who, Bergerac and Take Three Girls as well as work for children’s television, and guest appearances in BBC’s Wild West, Casualty and ITV’s Midsomer Murders.
Olivier Award-winning actor Matthew Kelly, returning as of Selsdon Mowbray, has West End credits including Waiting for Godot with Ian McKellen, Big The Musical, Funny Peculiar, Lend Me A Tenor!, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Sign of the Times and Lennie in Of Mice and Men, for which he received the Olivier Award for Best Actor. His television credits include the award-winning drama Cold Blood, Bleak House, Benidorm, Moving On and, as a presenter, the hit television series You Bet! and Stars in their Eyes.
Simon Shepherd, playing the disillusioned but philandering director, Lloyd Dallas, is well-known on television as Dr Will Preston in ITV’s Peak Practice, as well as roles in Casualty, Father Brown, Death in Paradise, Agatha Christie’s Poirot, The Ruth Rendell Mysteries and Chancer, On stage he appeared in West End productions of Hay Fever, The Duck House, Art, Rapture and Posh.
Lindsay Posner is one of the UK’s most accomplished directors of comedy. His many acclaimed West End productions include Hay Fever, Noises Off and Relatively Speaking, all of which played at Bath. Other Theatre Royal productions have included She Stoops to Conquer in 2015, The Truth in 2016, God of Carnage in 2018, Stones in his Pockets in 2019, Noises Off in 2022, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and the unforgettable Farewell Mister Haffmann at the theatre’s Ustinov Studio this September.
Michael Frayn’s diverse work for theatre includese Copenhagen, Donkeys’ Years, Democracy, Alphabetical Order, Benefactors, Clouds, Balmoral and Afterlife. He wrote Noises Off after watching, from the wings, his 1970 farce The Two of Us starring Richard Briers and Lynn Redgrave, and noting that the goings on behind the scenes were funnier than out front.
The 40th anniversary production of Noises Off returns to the West End this September playing at the Theatre Royal Haymarket with Felicity Kendal, Jonathan Coy and Alexander Hanson reprising their roles. The West End production will run concurrently with the touring production.