Christine Holliss as Dotty Otley (Mrs Clackett)
Richard Holliss as Lloyd Dallas (Director)
David Reed as Garry Lejeune (Roger Tramplemain)
Lucy Elliott as Brooke Ashton (Vicki)
Suzanne Macpherson as Poppy Norton-Taylor (Assistant Stage Manager)
Keith Cummings as Frederick Fellowes (Philip Brent / Sheikh)
Elaine Elliott as Belinda Blair (Flavia Brent)
Mark Simons as Tim Allgood (Company and Stage Manager)
Chris Millington as Selsdon Mowbray (Burglar)
Directed by Michael Philips
Stage Directer - David Mason
Costumes - Christine Holliss
Lighting Design - Peter Harpin
Crew - Christine Fryers, Doreen Friend, Terry Perkins, Chris Powell, Ian Halverson, Matt Mitchell
Publicity - Matt Mitchell
Programme - Richard Holliss
With thanks to Harlow Playhouse staff, ZedCapricorn multimedia services, Cowdall's Printers
A WHIRLWIND of wit and whimsy, Michael Frayn’s riotous farce-within-a-farce Noises Off is rightly regarded as one of the funniest plays ever written.
But it would be facile to suggest the exemplary script alone makes for easy laughs, because this must also be one of the most difficult comedies to successfully stage – especially for an am-dram group.
If the complication of a fully-rotatable set isn’t enough of a headache for a director, the complex stage directions, fizzy dialogue and intentionally chaotic delivery demand a degree of professionalism not often expected of an amateur production.
But it is testament to the enormous capabilities of director Michael Phillips and his cast that Global Productions’ effervescent adaptation of Frayn’s love letter to the theatre was a veritable tour-de-force of double entendres, sheikhs and sardines.
Global stalwart Richard Holliss was his usual brilliant self as grouchy director Lloyd Dallas, whose frustration with the ropey rehearsals for gauche sex comedy Nothing On is tempered only by the knowledge his next job will be directing Richard III.
As he sits head in hands off-stage, his hapless actors give a hilarious glimpse of the first act of the raunchy play-within-a-play, with forgetful Dotty Otley (played with great relish by Christine Holliss) continually screwing up a simple routine involving a troublesome plate of sardines.
David Reed and Lucy Elliott were similarly impressive as on-stage lovers Garry Lejeune and Brooke Ashton, the latter remaining composed throughout despite spending most of the play in a state of undress as all hell breaks loose around her.
Meanwhile, misfiring method man Frederick Fellowes (the hilarious Keith Cummings) struggles with nosebleeds, motivation and a misinterpreted dalliance with Garry’s off-stage lover Dotty that leads to some sublime slapstick in the second act as axe-wielding cast members chase each other around backstage.
But it was Chris Millington who very nearly stole the show as ageing, alcoholic thesp Selsdon Mowbray - a hilariously overblown RSC veteran who spends more time at the bottom of a whiskey bottle than he does on stage.
A triumph of controlled insanity, if Global Productions can continue to put on amateur productions of such outstanding quality – and this is by no means their first – Harlow theatregoers can safely spare their wallets an expensive trip up West.