Noises Off: on this week!
Noises Off by Michael Frayn is playing on our Main Stage from Friday 8 May to Saturday 16 may.
The play charts the misadventures of a touring theatre company as they stage an embarrassingly poor farce called Nothing On. In Acts One and Three the audience watches the first act of the fictional show from in front of the stage, while in Act Two the same act is seen from backstage, with the onstage action glimpsed only through doors and a window.
In order to show the antics of the cast both in front of and behind the scenes, the Company of Ten construction team has had to built a uniquely challenging set – a double-sided revolving structure which shows the interior of a renovated 16th-century posset mill (the set of Nothing On) on one side, and the backstage of a fictional theatre in Ashton-under-Lyne on the other.
The set also has two storeys, three staircases and 10 doors. “The playwright gives very specific notes on exactly how the set should look,” says stage manager Paul Davidson. “The hard part has been the logistics of making it work on our stage.
“For example, to make sure people at the back of the auditorium can see the action on the second-floor landing, we have had to build it quite low, which in turn means the doors below it are a little shorter. We’ve also had to make sure the doors and staircases are sufficiently robust to withstand the impact of farce: people running up and down stairs and slamming doors night after night.”
According to Paul, the set has taken almost three weeks to build, with up to five people working on it every day to get it finished on time.
“Part of the appeal of Noises Off is the way in which it unravels the mysteries of the theatrical process, albeit in an exaggerated way,” he adds. “We hope our audiences will enjoy their glimpse behind the scenes – although we’d like to stress that our actors do not get up to quite as much mischief backstage as the cast of Nothing On!”
The performance on Thursday 14 May will be audio-described for any blind and partially sighted people who would like to attend. Audience members wishing to use this service should book either by phone or in person at the box office.