Shrewsbury School

Churchill's House Play 'Noises Off' by Michael Frayn - an outstanding review

Tuesday 21 February 2012

The full company

The acting skills needed to produce an excellent farce are not to be underestimated: there is timing, of course – in and out of doors, up and down stairs – verbal dexterity – the ability to talk one’s self into or out of a situation convincingly – the art of playing ignorant – left hand mustn’t know what right is up to – and many other tricky techniques besides, designed to portray indulgence, innocence and tom-foolery. Let us hope that the Churchill contingent who put on this superb farce didn’t learn all their skills in house – tough on a housemaster, that sort of thing.

Will Heyes can be justly proud of directing what was surely the best farce on the Ashton Stage of recent years. Laurence Jeffcoate, the actor, holds together what his character, the director Lloyd Dallas, lets fall apart; much of the play’s amusement is based on how the actors gain control of his stage/asylum. Worryingly convincing as vague playboy and playgirl were  Alessandro Rebecchi  and Megan Hollands. The difficulty of tax-dodging has never looked so easy as in the (young) hands of Alex Shaw, who also needed to dodge his jealous spouse, played with real aplomb by Jazzy Price. Rory Fraser was excellent as Dotty, the fifth business who blithely is simply trying to eat a plate of sardines. Emilie Michell - nice to see her return to the Ashton Stage - and Ed Carroll were convincingly and wonderfully hapless, and David Vaughan-Jackson came close to stealing the show with his intermittent cameos as the burglar.

The polish and panache of this production were hugely enhanced by the ambitious set and excellent lighting. Will Allott deserves a great deal of credit – I shudder to think of the extravaganzas of which he will be capable by the sixth form!

The audience’s only regret was that the show consisted only of Act One, basically Michael Frayn’s original version.  An insistent clamour has arisen already for Acts Two and Three and, as all of the principals will still be in school next year, this looks a distinct possibility – one feels a petition coming on. Noises Off (part the first) was bang on; now we want the rest!

Des Hann

Please also see the full programme .

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