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A comedic chase
Noises Off

by By Michael Frayn
February 7-11

Directed By: B. Michael Quale

Noises Off is a 1982 play which was born in 1970, when the playwright was standing in the wings watching a performance of Chinamen, a farce that he had written for Lynn Redgrave.  According to the playwright, “It was funnier from behind than in front and I thought one day I must write a farce from behind.”  Noises Off has become a staple of both professional and community theatres on both sides of the Atlantic.


In theatrical stage directions, the term “noises off” specifies sounds that are meant to be heard from offstage.  The plot for Noises Off plays on the concept of a play within a play.  It is the type of play in which young girls run about in their underwear, old men drop their trousers, and many doors continually open and shut.  Each of the three acts of Noises Off contains a performance of the first act of Nothing On.


Much of the comedy emerges from the subtle variations in each version as off-stage chaos affects on-stage performance, with a great deal of slapstick.  The contrast between players’ on-stage and off-stage personalities is also a source of comic hilarity.


The play premiered at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, London.  It opened to universally ecstatic reviews and ran until 1987 with five successive casts.  It won the Evening Standard Award for Best Comedy.  In 1983, a production starring Dorothy Loudon and Victor Garber opened in New York City where it ran for 553 performances.  It earned Tony Award nominations for Best Play and won a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Ensemble.


In 1992, the play was adapted for the screen.  The film, directed by Peter Bogdanovich and starring Carol Burnett, Michael Caine, Christopher Reeve, John Ritter, Nicolette Sheridan, Denholm Elliott, Julie Hagerty, Mark Linn-Baker and Marilu Henner, received mixed reviews, with many critics noting it was too much of a theatrical piece to translate well to the screen.


A Broadway revival later opened featuring Patti LuPone, Peter Gallagher, Faith Prince, T.R. Knight, and Katie Finneran.  The production was nominated for a Tony and Drama Desk Award as Best Revival of a Play, and Finneran was named Best Featured Actress by both groups.


Noises Off has been continually rewritten over the years with numerous differences between the scripts published in 1982 and 2000.  Some new sequences have been added and those that tend to date the play have been eliminated or rewritten.




Dotty Otley (Mrs. Clackett)

Susan Snyder

Lloyd Dallas

Justin Parkinson

Garry LeJeune (Roger)

JC LaBar

Brooke Ashton (Vicki)

Paula Swenson

Poppy Norton - Taylor

Lee Ann Clark

Frederick Fellowes (Phillip)

Eric Pozgay

Belinda Blair (Flavia)

Jennifer Sommerfeld

Tim Allgood

Travis Gudmunsen

Selson Mowbray (Burglar)

Ted Lindseth