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Company making all the right ‘Noises’

 

Have you ever sat in the auditorium of a theatre and wondered what’s going on behind the scenes?

Well, Abbey Theatre audiences will soon find out when the Company of Ten stages Noises Off, one of English theatre’s most celebrated examples of a play within a play – or, more specifically, a farce within a farce.

Written by Michael Frayn and first performed in 1982, this multi-award-winning play follows a group of actors as they put on a touring production of a terrible farce called Nothing On, complete with half-dressed women, men dropping their trousers, slamming doors and multiple plates of sardines.

Each of the real play’s three acts contains a performance of the first act of the fictional show: Act One takes place at the dress rehearsal, where the actors show themselves to be hopelessly ill-prepared; Act Two is set backstage during a shambolic public performance about a month into the run; and Act Three shows a final catastrophic performance towards the end of the run.

According to director Susan Russell-Curtis, what makes Noises Off so effective – and so funny – is that it works both as a clever satire of theatrical tradition and a polished piece of theatre in its own right.

Staging the play has posed some exciting challenges, she adds. “The designer, constructors and crew have had to provide us with not just a two-storey set with multiple doors, but a two-storey set that is double-sided and can be moved around very quickly.

“For the cast it is a marathon, both physically and mentally. The blocking of lines and moves is like a dance, requiring precise choreography, where one wrong move will cause the whole dance to go out of step. Luckily for me, unlike the poor director of Nothing On, I am working with a very talented group of actors who are more than up to the challenge!”

Performances take place on our Main Stage from Friday 8 to Saturday 9 May at 8pm; on Sunday 10 May at 2.30pm; and from Tuesday 12 to Saturday 16 May at 8pm.

There will be an audio-described performance for blind and partially sighted people on Thursday 14 May at 8pm. Audience members wishing to use this service should book by phone or in person at the box office.

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