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Noises Off: Arts Club Theatre Play Review

Noises Off Arts Club Play

Produced by Vancouver’s Arts Club Theatre Company, Noises Off is a farcical comedy that’s showing at the Massey Theatre in New Westminster in February.

Written by British playwright Michael Frayn, the play runs from February 15th until February 27th in 2022.

In this article we’ll tell you a bit about the production, the story, what we liked and what we’d compare it to.

If you like comedies and live theatre, especially farces, you’ll really enjoy this play. We did!


For tickets to see the play see the Massey Theatre‘s official website.


Noises Off at the Massey Theatre

The critically-acclaimed production Noises Off premiered in London, England, in 1982. Since that time it has played around the world.

The Arts Club Theatre Company took on the play a couple of years ago. It showed at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage in early 2020, so just before the pandemic started shutting everything down.

Noises Off is back in the Lower Mainland, in the second half of February 2022, this time at New Westminster’s Massey Theatre. Once again, the production is by the Arts Club Theatre Company, just not at one of their own venues.

The Massey Theatre’s address is 735 Eighth Avenue in New Westminster. The play runs every day, except for the Monday of the Family Day Long Weekend, between February 15th and the 27th.


Noises Off Play


Our Review of Noises Off

We went to see Noises Off on February 19th in 2022. We knew it was an Arts Club Theatre production, so our expectations were high. We weren’t disappointed. The acting was excellent, the set was phenomenal, and the story was both fun and entertaining.

After two years of pandemic restrictions and limited access to performing arts events, it was so nice to enjoy a night of live theatre!

The play itself was great. It’s a farce, and it really was farcical. If you like farces and slapstick comedy, you’ll really enjoy this one. If you watch carefully and pay close attention, you’ll see it’s not just a bunch of silliness. Noises Off is actually very carefully crafted. You’ll notice this especially beginning in the second act right after the intermission.


For tickets to see the play see the Massey Theatre‘s official website.


About the Play

Noises Off is a farce. It could also be called a bedroom or sex farce. And it’s a classic one.

A farce is a light comedy with an improbable or over-the-top storyline. According to Dictionary.com, it’s also “a light, humorous play in which the plot depends upon a skillfully exploited situation.” And that’s exactly what Noises Off is.

A sex farce, or bedroom farce, is a type of farce. According to Wikipedia, it’s a farce “which centres on the sexual pairings and recombinations of characters as they move through improbable plots and slamming doors.” In Noises Off there was indeed a lot of door slamming, as well as a bit of falling down stairs. There was also gossip about relationships, and quarrels between both lovers and rivals.

We rate the play “mature” because it had sexual humour, a pretty actress in sexy (yet tasteful) underwear, and very occasional swearing. One character also had problems with alcohol. Despite all of this, the show was suitable for most audiences. Our teenaged children would have enjoyed it, as would their grandmothers!


Noises Off Play


The Plot

Noises Off is a play-within-a-play, or a farce-within-a-farce. It’s about a company of not-so-talented actors struggling to put together a comedy play of their own. The play within the story is Nothing On. It itself is a farce.

Why is the real play by Michael Frayn called Noises Off? One reason is because when a play is in process actors backstage have to be silent. In this play, when the Nothing On play-within-the-play is on, although the characters have a lot to say between themselves backstage, they have to be silent, or at least as quiet as possible. Half of Act Two is in relative silence, despite unbelievable chaos.

The play Noises Off involves three acts. The first is of the dress rehearsal for the play Nothing On. Act Two takes place after the real play’s intermission and is of Opening Night for the Nothing On show. The final act is of the company’s final performance of the play-within-the-play.


Act One

Act One involves a chaotic dress rehearsal where the director struggles to prepare the actors for their big performance. They are far from ready, and the show starts in less than 24 hours!

In the first act, actors forget their lines and scripted actions. Off-stage relationships between characters are slowly revealed. The director tries to be as calm and patient as humanly possible, but still appears ready to have a nervous breakdown. Ready or not, the show must go on! It’s sure to be a disaster.


Act Two

Act Two is of Opening Night, but from behind the scenes. You see what goes on backstage while the actors perform on the other side of the set. Act One prepares the audience for what they can’t see in the second act. You see everything from a different perspective this time round, plus a whole lot more.

The second act is even funnier than the first. It was definitely our favourite. Because it takes place backstage during the live performance, actors can speak their lines on stage, but must keep silent when behind the set and not acting.

Act Two is like a comedy of errors, but done largely in mime. Actors must communicate, troubleshoot, and ensure the show goes on despite internal jealousies, misunderstandings, and relationship battles between one another.


Act Three

The third act takes place on the final night of the production. This time though, the audience once again sees the show from the front of the stage. If you thought Opening Night was a disaster, this last performance is even worse!


The Set

The set is amazing! It’s the inside of an upscale home where the play-within-a-play takes place. It is impressive at first site. A lot of work had obviously gone into making it. What makes the set even more impressive, however, is that it can be moved around, allowing the audience to see things from behind.


The Actors

The cast of Noises Off did a really good job, especially considering the need for British accents and the show’s fast pace. The falling downstairs and hopping back up them again was especially impressive.

The cast in the 2022 production is the same as the original Arts Club production from 2020. They were all excellent in the show we saw.

Our favourite two actors in the play when we saw it were Andrew McNee (playing Director Lloyd Dallas) and Tess Degenstein (playing the ditzy blonde Brooke Ashton). All the actors did a great job. It was hard to pick favourites. If we had to though, these two stood out for us.


For tickets to see the play see the Massey Theatre‘s official website.


What Would We Compare Noises Off To?

How would we describe the play? It’s a classic farce that’s like a combination, in our opinion, of three classic comedies. The first is the sitcom Three’s Company from the late 1970s and early 80s, with its slapstick style sexual humour.

The second classic comedy style that Noises Off reminded us of was a toned-down Three Stooges movie, full of physical farce and slapstick. Noises Off was like a combination of these two classics, plus the humour and cleverness of a silent Charlie Chaplin film from the 1920s and 30s.

Mix Three’s Company, set in near modern times, with some of the absurdity of Moe, Larry and Curly, and add to that some of the silliness, class and silence of a good Charlie Chaplin film, and you’ll get a pretty good idea of what to expect from Noises Off! It’s a slapstick farce with sexual humour, lots of talking, but also sections where the comedy is largely silent.

Noises Off is a light dramatic comedy that’s not at all serious. It’s wonderfully chaotic, full of calamity, and riddled with physical and slapstick humour. We really enjoyed the show, the acting and the story. If you like comical farces, you will too!

(Note: The play’s director, Scott Bellis, mentions Three’s Company and the Three Stooges in his introduction in the program guide as examples of “low comedy.”)


Other Information

To learn more about the show, and for tickets, see the Massey Theatre‘s website.

For information about the Vancouver company behind the show, see our article about the Arts Club Theatre Company.

For reviews of Noises Off from a couple of years ago see the Vancouver Sun‘s article or that of Vancouverscape.

Other articles that might be of interest include the following: