‘Noises Off’ is a three act play about a play within a play, where we are privy to the goings on behind the scenes.
Throughout Act One we witness the final dress rehearsal where just about anything that could go wrong, does. In Act Two we watch the performance from “backstage” where we witness the deterioration of relationships within the cast and once again- the show is a shemozzle! The Third and final Act is near the end of the play’s 10 week run; where the cast are becoming increasingly bored, relationships are strained, and any mishaps in the performance are only augmented by poor attempts to mask them!
‘Noises Off’ shows us the ugly truth; which is the difference between our on stage persona’s and that of our true selves, the tensions between cast mates and how this effects the performers on and off stage interaction… All of which is demonstrated in a slapstick comedy style!
In speaking with cast members Marcus Flood, Natasha Bassett and Ashleigh McPherson, I discovered what makes the play so entertaining, their experiences of working with Director Nathan Firmin, and exactly why Catchment are such a unique and enjoyable company to work with.
A play about a play within a play……sounds kind of confusing! What makes it so funny?
“The show is especially funny for theatre people as the play is a play within a play….does that make sense?” said Marcus. “So anyone who has ever done a show will relate to the range of characters that are portrayed. Theatre people will probably relate each character to someone they have worked with before, which makes it all the more fun. Non theatre people will also love the farce style, which seems to transcend all genders and races.”
Natasha added, “There are lots of double entendres, physical humour and quirky characters. Add in a few recurring issues (like sardines!) and slamming doors, and it becomes a laugh a minute! It is set during a rehearsal, performance, and backstage of the play called ‘Nothing On’. Everyone who has performed in theatre will recognise the characters – there are some in every show!”
Ashleigh states that, “It’s a great laugh for anyone who’s ever been to the theatre and found themselves wondering: ‘I think that actor might have just mucked up his line, was that supposed to happen?’; or ‘I wonder if those two leading cast members actually hate each other?’; or ‘I wonder what would happen if that person didn’t come onstage at that exact moment that they needed to…’. Think of everything that could possibly go wrong when you’re trying to put on a show; and it will happen in ‘Noises Off’. It’s extremely well written, and very, very funny.”
The concept of the show and the fact that it is purely comical had me wondering: is there any freedom within the script for varied interpretation?
“The script is quite detailed in what is required. Although you could interpret characters freely, you wouldn’t want to mess with things too much as it is quite intricate,” commented Natasha.
And have you been given the freedom to personalise the characters?
Marcus explained, “Our director Nathan Firmin has been great. He’s really encouraged us all to throw in any funny ideas that we have so that we can give our characters our own personal spin. It’s been amazing to watch everyone develop their quirks. I’m always having to stifle laughter at the other cast members during rehearsals – there’s not a single weak link. Nathan’s also been chock-full of ideas and suggestions of his own. It’s been a terrific experience to take a classic script and to be able to give it our own unique touch.”
I imagine that rehearsing a comedy would be quite an enjoyable process. We all know that even in rehearsals for the most serious of shows, we develop cast ‘in jokes’ that will have us in stitches at many an after party! Are the humorous highlights of the rehearsal process increased when rehearsing a comedy?
“Noises Off is a very prop heavy show, and it took a while for all the props to arrive so we were collecting strange items from around the Catchment Factory to use,” said Natasha. “A golf club has been handy as an axe and a mop; and random bits of wood have doubled as bunches of flowers. When the real props arrived we didn’t quite know what was what…. “
“Personally, I’ve destroyed two pairs of pants and at least one of the props during the rehearsal period!” added Ashley.
The show is about things going wrong. Is it complex to rehearse things so well, that they ‘go wrong’ at the right time?
“It’s a really difficult show to get right…the timing of some of the visual gags has to be pretty down pat! Kind of ironic, really!” continued Ashley.
So it appears that the rehearsals for ‘Noises Off’ have been quite true to the script! Things going wrong just when you don’t want them to! On a more serious note, what can you tell me about working with Catchment?
Ashley answered; “Catchment are a terrific company to work with. We’re really lucky to have been able to start rehearsing on the set from a very early stage. I haven’t had that efficiency with any other company before. And when you’re dealing with such a precise, fast-paced and hectic show, knowing the set back-to-front is a big advantage!
“’Noises Off’ is my first show with Catchment, and the team have been nothing but supportive and helpful,” said Marcus. “My experience of working on ‘Noises Off’ has been a fun and challenging one. This is my first play and therefore it has also been a great learning curve. Working with a great cast has taught me a lot.”
And finally, anything further the potential audience should know?
“……..at least 3 members of the cast spend time in their underwear on stage…” added Natasha.
We all love a laugh, so head on down to the Banyule Theatre in Heidelberg and get ready for some slap stick comedy about the true theatre world when Catchment Players presents ‘Noises Off’!.
Friday 19 March – 8pm
Saturday 20 March – 8pm
Sunday 21 March – 2pm
Monday 22 March – 8pm
Friday 26 March – 8pm
Saturday 27 March 5pm
Tickets $27, $26 (Gala Opening Night), $25 (Monday 22 March)