The Lyric Hammersmith’s production of Noises Off transfer in fine style to the Garrick Theatre
“Let there be doors that open when they open and close when they close”
I’ve long had my issues with farce but Noises Off managed to break through my preconceptions to genuinely make me laugh when the Old Vic revived it and then took it into the West End back in 2012. Even so, I have to say I wasn’t much enamoured by the thought of going back to it, hence me not going to the Lyric Hammersmith to catch Jeremy Herrin’s production there and only just now making it to this West End transfer at the Garrick Theatre.
And after the first act, I began to wonder if I hadn’t had the right impulse initially. I’d argue it’s good but not great, leaning into conventional farce as a touring theatre company take their own farce Nothing On across the country while dealing with the repercussions of their tangled inter-relationships. It is after the interval that the play soars though, the second act takes us behind the scenes into a sensationally choreographed piece of riotous fun of the highest order.
As the final act sees the exhausted company winding up with one of their final performances, the inventiveness dips just a tad as we return to very good rather than exceptional. For me, I think the problem is that this is very much a play that will never be as good as the first time you saw it. That said, with a cast that includes Meera Syal, Daniel Rigby and Sarah Hadland having the time of their life, and Lloyd Owen looking mighty fine in a polo neck, there’s not much else on that is as funny as this.