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Noises Off

January 16th - January 20th


One of the greatest British comedies ever written returns to Malvern after a successful West End run. Starring Liza GoddardPaul Bradley and Simon Shepherd, Michael Frayn’s celebrated play serves up a riotous double bill – a play within a play.

Hurtling along at breakneck speed, Noises Off follows the on and offstage antics of a touring theatre company as they stumble their way through the fictional farce, Nothing On.

From the shambolic final rehearsals before opening night in Weston-super-Mare, to a disastrous matinee in Ashton-Under-Lyme seen entirely, and hilariously silently, from backstage, before we share their final, brilliantly catastrophic performance in Stockton-on-Tees.


Photo Credit: Pamela Raith
Photos featuring the 2023 touring cast


Trailer features the 2023 touring cast.


January 16th
January 20th
Event Categories:
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Festival Theatre
Grange Road
Malvern, WR14 3HB


Wed & Thurs Mats: £41.44, £39.20, £36.96, £33.60 & £30.24
Tues-Thurs Eves & Sat Mat: £43.68, £41.44, £39.20, £35.84 & £32.48
Fri & Sat Eves: £45.92, £43.68, £41.44, £38.08 & £34.72
£2 concessions (over 60s /unwaged)
Under 26s £16.80
Members discounts apply
Price includes 12% booking fee
Show Times:
Tuesday 16th to Saturday 20th January
Evenings at 7.30pm
Wednesday, Thursday & Saturday matinees at 2.30pm

Event Reviews

  • Jo

    Clever, so clever and sooooo funny.

  • Roger

    Any evening well spent . Hard work for those on stage, but they did very well.

  • Paul

    Michael Frayn’s “Noises Off” is over 40 years old now but showing no signs of aging proving the essential elements of British farce (e.g. trouser dropping, jumping out of cupboards, wrong doors, mistaken identity, double entendres, extra marital affairs etc etc) are timeless. Frayn’s twist of putting his farce within a farce adds a new dimension to the mix in this high-energy production. It’s all a bit frenetic, but the cast, led by Simon Shepherd as the world-weary director, are on top form, hamming it up for all it’s worth. Act 2 and the car-crash silent performance is a masterpiece of comic timing and stage craft worth the admission price alone. Like Les Dawson playing the piano, it takes real skill to do something this badly so well.

    Not sure how the cast are going to get through the week with a couple of matinees thrown in maintaining these energy levels. 4.5/5

  • Fairy Powered Productions - Courie Amado Juneau

    Noises Off, the wonderful British farce, is a play within a play in which a group of actors navigate through the staging of the fictional “Nothing On” where, naturally, things don’t go as planned and interpersonal relationships complicate matters.

    The first act opens on the final rehearsal; the cast are suffering from rather shambolic performances, unfamiliarity with lines and battling the many props the author has inflicted upon them. Chief among these are plates of sardines. We’re introduced to the characters in the order they appear in “Nothing On” though, of course, during this first act we also get introduced to all their issues. This includes a complicated love triangle and a cast member whose familiarity with drink triggers consternation for all.

    Liza Goddard plays Dotty the housekeeper (in “Nothing On”) and an actress who has a stake in the production both financially and romantically with a fellow cast member. A performance full of wit and a lovely natural quality that was ever more effective as the play rushed towards its manic finale. She was a delight to watch.

    Soon enough director Lloyd Dallas (played by Simon Shepherd) interrupts to give some needed (yet seldom headed) direction, trying to get the cast back on track and focused. Mr Shepherd brought gravitas and an attractive realism to the role in a commanding performance.

    A superb ensemble gave their all and each had their highlights. A tight word count prevents me waxing lyrical about each of them. I will briefly mention Paul Bradley as Selsdon as my particular highlight as I really enjoyed his bumbling, the misunderstandings he wrought and his attempts to get his hands on that bottle in the second act…

    In that second act we join the cast some weeks into the play’s run to discover that the pressures have taken their toll. The backstage crew, seen in the first act, really come into their own in this second act as they try to navigate the increasingly choppy waters and series of unfortunate misunderstandings (especially when the Director turns up with the aforementioned booze and instructions to purchase flowers for one of the cast). Tim (Daniel Rainford) and Poppy (Nikhita Lesler) played these behind the scenes (and under the cosh) heroes with superb comic timing and relish; working together wonderfully to produce cascades of hilarity – especially in the non-stop, non-sequential audience announcements. The final act brings us the rather unfortunate closing night. I won’t spoil the surprise but if you have ever seen The Play That Goes Wrong you will know what to expect.

    I love the premise to this work, it’s ingenious to see the same play from three different stages of its run. It looks like a whole lotta fun to perform in and it’s certainly many barrels of laughs to watch. With disappearing props driving the company to despair, wardrobe malfunctions aplenty and a cast doing their best to just get to the end at all costs whilst all around unravels, this show has plenty for everyone to enjoy. A pleasure to see this work on the stage again, it’s just what the Dr ordered to dispel those winter blues. Highly reccommended.

  • Showtime! John Philpott

    Back in the dinosaur days of my childhood there was the occasional treat permitted that momentarily suspended the usual 1950s parent-offspring conventions.

    It was the televised Whitehall Farce, a riot in black and white of dropped trousers, striped boxer shorts, young women running about in male fantasy underwear, and the entire symphony of questionable taste set to the beat of endlessly slammed doors.

    Fast forward several decades.... and let us enter Michael Frayn’s seemingly evergreen trespass into a world of what many would regard as being hopelessly dated humour.

    So, one would be forgiven for thinking that all the comedic developments of the last half century had never taken place. In which case, you’d be wrong, because what is essentially childish humour has been updated by... the shout.

    And I mean SHOUT! For it never stops, not once for nearly two hours. I suppose for that we have to thank – or curse, depending on one’s sensibilities and endurance levels – Ben Elton, the greatest rant meister the late 20th century world had even seen.

    Just a theory, mind. Whatever makes us laugh at the same, predictable knockabout capers, we may never know.

    Suffice to say that people were laughing like drains on the first night and I doubt the mirth will stop until the curtain finally falls at the Festival Theatre on Saturday night.

    However, back in the Brian Rix era, there was usually a slow build-up to the action before the obligatory explosion of loose lingerie, a bit like those volcanoes currently going off across Iceland, only maybe hotter.

    Not so with this one. Lisa Ambalavanar’s kit comes off before you can say ‘suspender belts ahoy’ and this sets the tone for the evening’s madness as her Brooke Ashton character whoops and shrieks her way through the proceedings.

    Likewise, Dan Fredenburgh as Garry Lejeune who, displaying truly remarkable energy levels, effortlessly John Cleeses a stormy passage through his endless disasters.

    Noises Off is that modern phenomenon known as ‘the play within a play,’ in this case the sorry tale of a group of touring thespians staggering from gig to gig, each one worse than the one that came before.

    Crucially, Simon Higlett’s extremely impressive sets feature plenty of doors, ideal for constant slamming, as every farce funster knows. I counted eight in the first set, a similar number in the second, lost count on the third. So, allowing say four on the last, that’s 20 doors, together with their attendant 40 well-oiled hinges.

    And that, my friends, makes for one hell of a percussive slamathon. In fact, put this in a rock context, and I reckon Simon is to Noises Off what the late and great Charlie Watts was to the Rolling Stones.

    However, the running gag revolves around sardines. Why? Because they are. Don’t ask me why the omega-rich little friends of the cardiovascular system have been granted this honour, I dunno, they just have.

    Except, of course, they make useful props when it comes to visual jokes. Such as when Liza Goddard’s Mrs Mop character Dotty Otley drops a handful down the front of her pinny, and then must retrieve them, pulling all manner of agonised faces in the process.

    Interestingly, La Goddard is the only cast member capable of expressing herself at less than 99.5 decibels, which certainly pales in comparison to Lucy Robinson’s Belinda Blair, who goes at it full throttle for the duration, possibly using more wattage than a Megadeath encore.

    But hey, it’s all good fun, and a capacity crowd enjoyed every single hyperactive second, hooting, whooping and generally going bonkers.

    But what would Brian Rix say? We can only guess... so may the farce be with you, everyone.

  • Robert

    Brilliant. What else is there to say.

  • Sal

    Wow. This cast and show are outstanding. Could not recommend highly enough. Fantastic! The physicality of some of the cast was unbelievable,the comic timing was sublime. Amazing!!

  • The View from the Stalls - Pete Phillips

    A hilarious account of what it takes to put on a play

    Have you ever seen the same play three times in a single evening?

    If not, then now's your chance as Michael Frayn's unique comedy Noises Off comes to Malvern with a great cast of Liza Goddard (who was here less than a year ago in Alan Ayckbourn's Relatively Speaking) , Simon Shepherd (who was also here less than a year ago in Mrs Warren's Profession) and Paul Bradley in the main roles.

    The structure of the evening is quite simple. A play called Nothing On is being performed at various venues around the country and is directed by a man who, by his own admission, would rather be elsewhere directing Richard III.

    Firstly we see the cast doing the "technical" or "dress" rehearsal - time restraints means having to combine the two or even considering the first performance as the last rehearsal. This catastrophic introduction to the play gives the idea that the show is not quite ready…

    After the interval, we return to the play but with one impressive and crucial difference. The entire set has revolved so we are now looking at the back of the stage as the play is re-enacted from the start for a matinée performance (of mainly old-age pensioners!) and we watch as chaos ensues behind the scenes. Due to the fact that the "other" audience is listening to the play, everything that we see going on backstage - and a lot does - is done in complete silence with plenty of miming and exaggerated frantic actions.

    The curtain falls again and this time we see the revolving set returning to the position we normally expect for a final performance where things go frankly from bad to worse…

    The play cleverly contains just about every element essential to a farce and in spite of the fact that the play is now 40 years old, it is basically timeless with only the old-fashioned TV set and telephone harking back to an earlier time. There are 6 doors - some that won't open and some that won't close, of course - vital for the cast to appear from and disappear into at appropriate moments, various pairs of trousers that won't stay up, an inebriated cast member, plates of sardines(!) and a line you would never expect in a play: "I thought I'd never see Basingstoke again!"

    The play must be a challenge for the cast, having to perform the same lines three times in different circumstances without ever getting confused as to which calamity they are portraying and they pull it off superbly. It is a challenge that pays of brilliantly as far as the "real" audience is concerned who were kept in stiches throughout the whole show and certainly showed their appreciation when the curtain finally fell for the last time (and yes, in keeping with the calamitous show, there were various unsuccessful attempts to even do that!)

  • Linda

    Comedy is the hardest performing genre, even with this incredibly funny and almost slapstick script from Michael Frayn. The cast of 'Noises Off' in this production acted as a single unit, creating an hilarious and impeccably-timed performance which had the audience in hysterics. There were so many nuances, well-crafted characters and moments of team interaction, it is impossible to point to anything in particular; but as the farcical nature of the situation increases, so the comedy moments become evermore fast and furious. My favourite moment was when the increasingly harassed estate agent slid down the stairs; and one to watch is the jack-of-all trades stage hand, understated yet brilliantly executed. The script is hilariously funny, and this company was astonishing in their versatility and delivery. A standing ovation from the nearly full Tuesday night audience says it all!!

  • Behind the Arras - Emma Trimble

    Michael Frayn’s Noises Off UK Tour extends into 2024, opening at Malvern Theatres with a crash bang wallop from the West End, so sit back in the dark with a packet of Gummy Bears and enjoy the farce, after a toilet break of course.

    It’s final rehearsals in Weston-Super-Mare for Nothing On, as a play within a play undresses itself, dropping trousers, breaking out of paper bags with sex maniacs running riot. “Once you get it in your nostrils, you never forget it.”

    What is a farce without crude characterization, trousers round your ankles and a plate of sardines? British award-winning playwright and novelist Michael Frayn is hailed as the master of farce comedy and it’s easy to see why it’s celebrating the 40th anniversary, as the penmanship is exquisitely executed with warp speed nimbleness with instantaneous joy and humility.

    The play premiered at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, London in 1982, but is it dated for a more modern audience? This year’s farcical comedy is at Malvern Theatres from January 16 until January 20 and I was lucky to see Liza Goddard in action as housekeeper Dotty Otley, Dotty by name and dotty by nature.

    Dotty becomes increasingly forgetful and confused wrapping herself up in the telephone cable and becoming more and more dishevelled as the antics behind the scenes force their way on to the stage. Luckily she can’t see far with her leg.

    Director Lloyd Dallas, Simon Shepherd, has great stage presence and brings everything together despite his dalliances. Belinda Blair, Lucy Robinson, had me in hysterics with her incredible miming, flouncing around in her bright pink dress and keeping a check on burglar Selsdon Mowbray, Paul Bradley, who can just about hear what is going on.

    The set designer Simon Higlett cleverly engineers a revolving set seamlessly transitioning from front of house to behind the scenes allowing Lindsay Posner to direct the magic with a little help from lighting designer Paul Pyant and sound designer Gregory Clarke. ‘It’s all quite simple really, doors and sardines. That’s what it’s all about, doors and sardines. Getting on, getting off. Getting the sardines on, getting the sardines off. That’s farce. That’s the theatre. That’s life.’

    When one door opens another door closes. After the first Act with the disastrous final rehearsals, the second Act gathers momentum behind the scenes with Garry Lejeune’s, Dan Fredenburgh’s, increasing anger at betrayal, heartbreak, jealousy and has to perform a Wednesday matinee in Ashton-under-Lyne with shoe laces tied together, fighting with a cactus and taking a tumble, oh I don’t know…

    The piece de resistance is the final third Act in Stockton-on-Tees ending in a frantic chaotic, slapstick medley of shenanigans which will leave you wanting to watch the whole thing all over again.

    Noises Off is definitely not dated, despite the microwave looking television and the box of paperwork. Brooke Ashton, Lisa Ambalavanar, can finally put some clothes on and see clearly and Tim Allgood, Daniel Rainford can have a well-deserved rest with his feet up and Frederick Fellowes, Simon Coates, can pull his trousers up and mop his bloody nose in peace.

    ‘When all around is strife and uncertainty, there’s nothing like an old fashioned plate of, uh….Curtain!’

    A must see this week at Malvern Theatres.

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