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Noises Off - Norwich Theatre Royal (07.11.2023)

It was a game of two halves (and three Acts) as the riotously funny Noises Off brought its fictional touring production, Nothing On, to Norwich.

The classic play-within-a-play opens with the team staggering their way through their final dress run. For those who involve themselves with theatre production at any level, they'll recognise a lot of the frustrations the cast and crew experience as they battle with an overly long rehearsal and constant stoppages, with the fictional actors slowing things down by missing cues and asking too many unnecessary questions.

The first half is all fairly gentle paced and largely word-based humour, as they effectively tee up the gags for later in the show.

The second half is where the action really kicks up a notch, as we join the company a few weeks into their ten-week tour. Relationships among the company have soured by this stage, and we watch from behind the set as many of the cast do their utmost to sabotage each other's performances.

The action here heavily relies on visual humour, with the precise choreography from Movement and Fight Directors Ruth Cooper-Brown and Claire Llewellyn coming to the fore. It's all very cleverly staged managed and brilliantly pulled off by the team, and most of all, absorbing and fun to watch.

The final Act sees the set rotated again as the bedraggled looking cast once more struggle through the opening of the show, but this time it's the last performance of the tour. By now, we are more than familiar with how the opening Act of the show goes, so it's particularly hilarious to see it all unravel as some of the cast try their damnedest to stick to the script.

With established actors such as Matthew Kelly and Liza Goddard at the helm, this was always going to be a high quality show. But it takes more than just stage-craft to pull off a production of this calibre, and thankfully our talented cast and crew were up to the job, making for a ridiculously funny evening's entertainment.

Noises Off continues at Norwich Theatre Royal until 11 Nov.


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