Noises Off (Pitlochry Festival Theatre)

Noises Off, Pitlochry Festival Theatre 2022. Photography by Fraser Band.

"Connor Going's Garry is a highlight...there's an edge to all he does and his physical comedy in act two is terrific." WhatsonStage, Simon Thompson

"[Connor Going] very successfully embodies Garry's actually-quite-good acting alongside his complete inability to finish a sentence in real life. Going also delivers one of the most impressive physical moments of the night, leading to mid-show applause." West End Best Friend, Lorna Murray

"the audience at this particular performance was certainly enjoying themselves." Broadway World, Fiona Scott



Review: NOISES OFF, Pitlochry Festival Theatre

Noises Off at Pitlochry’s Festival Theatre is a gem of a farce. The play, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, is about a touring theatre company who are themselves performing a farce, one which they are woefully underprepared to perform. What ensues for the audience is a masterclass in timing, physical comedy and fun. 
We first meet the company on the night of their dress rehearsal. No one knows their lines and crucially, no one knows which of the many on-stage doors they enter or exit from. Lloyd, the director, played by Marc Small, is amongst the audience, shouting directions and getting more and more frustrated as the act progresses. 
Act 1 is very funny. Ben Occhipinti’s direction brings out the very best of Michael Frayn’s excellent script, showcasing the mayhem, chaos and mishaps that this company are facing with mere hours to go before the curtain is due to rise. The jokes in Act 1 are very much centred around the actors’ confusion and Lloyd’s growing anger – there are multiple copies of the same prop brought on by different people at different times alongside the aforementioned complicated entrances and exits, and we begin catching snippets of the drama unfolding backstage between the company too, as love triangles are uncovered, which become very important in the side-splitting Act 2.
In Act 2, we see the first act of the play-within-a-play twice more, once from out front as the audience, but first, from backstage, as the conflicts, triangles and drama between the company come to a head during one of their performances. There is very little clearly spoken dialogue in this section – instead, the cast are whispering, hissing and gesturing frantically at one another. This leads to some absolutely spectacular physical comedy as they attempt to continue the show whilst dealing with the complications in their personal lives. Nothing appears to be off-limits in this part – from shoelaces being tied together, to cacti ending up in unmentionable places, to some characters literally being chased with an axe, this is slapstick comedy at its finest. After this, the audience are granted a brief respite as Liz Cooke’s clever set is swivelled around for the final time, where we watch a performance of the show in which pretty much anything that can go wrong, does. By the end, it seems like the cast (of the play-within-a-play) are near tears, near exhaustion, and ready to never act again – which of course makes it all the funnier for us!
In order to make a show like this work, the cast needs impeccable timing – the whole thing must work like a machine, and if one part actually goes wrong in real life, it could cause chaos. Thankfully, this cast are fantastic. Every performer on stage captures their character flawlessly. Deirdre Davis is hysterical as Dotty, the aging actress who is in the middle of a love triangle and is constantly bamboozled by just where she’s supposed to put her plate of sardines. One of her paramours is Garry (Connor Going), who very successfully embodies Garry’s actually-quite-good acting alongside his complete inability to finish a sentence in real life. Going also delivers one of the most impressive physical moments of the night, leading to mid-show applause. Rachael McAllister’s clueless Brooke is delightfully ditzy, and the several times she loses a contact lens are comedy gold. Keith Jack charms as Freddie, who has such a strong aversion to physical violence that it causes nosebleeds – his ability to scale a flight of stairs with his trousers round his ankles is quite something! Alyson Orr brings some sense to proceedings with Belinda, who is just about the only reliable, sane one amongst the group and who spends half her time searching for the elderly, half-deaf alcoholic Selsdon (Keith Macpherson) who steals the show every time he’s on stage by being completely oblivious as to what he’s supposed to be doing. The company is completed with Meg Chaplin (Poppy) and Richard Colvin (Tim), long-suffering stage managers, understudies and general dogsbodies.
This riotous farce is a must-see.
***** Five stars 
West End Best Friend, Lorna Murray