“Noises Off” is a comedy about a motley collection of actors on tour through the provinces of England in a perfectly dreadful sex farce “Nothing On”. When the curtain goes up on the first act, the audience is confronted with the living room of the Brent’s country home and doors leading to many other rooms, all of which are put into immediate – and continual – use by a group of inept performers battling their way through the final dress rehearsal of “Nothing On.” In the course of the act, the audience learns more about the cast, their love affairs, and personal foibles than if they had read “The Tattler.”
“Noises Off”‘s second act takes this madness one step further. The audience once again watches Act I of “Nothing On”, but from the backstage. The entire set has revolved 180 degrees, exposing the back of the flats. A month has passed and personal alliances have shifted in the interval. Those who were sleeping together a month ago would now like to kill each other. But the show must go on. The entire second act is carefully choreographed pandemonium, as the cast struggles to keep up appearances for the audience while wreaking havoc on each other backstage.
The third act takes place in the living room set again. Another month has passed and the entire production is in shambles. The cast’s private lives have now gone public onstage, and “Nothing On” grinds to a halt.
Cast of Characters:
- Lloyd Dallas: The director of the play-within-the-play. Temperamental. Part of a love triangle involving Poppy and Brooke.
- Dotty Ottley: A late middle aged actress. Forgetful. Has a romantic interest in Garry, and provokes him by showing interest in Freddy.
- Garry Lejeune: A stuttering actor, easily fired up. Has a romantic interest in Dotty, and is driven by jealousy to attack Freddy repeatedly. His speech impediment disappears onstage. Constantly stutters and ends sentences with “you know…”
- Brooke Ashton: A young inexperienced actress from London. She pays no attention to others, either in performance or backstage. She rarely takes direction, and persists in her role regardless of any interruption. She is always losing her contact lenses. Part of the Lloyd-Poppy-Brooke love triangle. Spends much of the play in her underwear.
- Frederick (Freddy) Fellowes: Has a serious fear of violence and blood. Gets nosebleeds easily. Lacks confidence and is rather dim-witted and pompous.
- Belinda Blair: Cheerful and sensible, a reliable actress. Has a rather protective attitude towards Freddy.
- Poppy Norton-Taylor: Assistant Stage Manager. Emotional and over-sensitive. Envious of Brooke, whom she understudies. Part of the Lloyd-Poppy-Brooke love triangle.
- Selsdon Mowbray: Elderly and with actorly mannerisms. If he is not in sight while rehearsing, the stage crew must find him before he finds the whisky.
- Timothy Allgood: An over-worked Stage Manager. Understudies Selsdon and Freddy.
Characters of “Nothing On”, the play-within-the-play
- Mrs. Clackett (Dotty): Housekeeper for the Brents’ home in England. Hospitable, cockney, though slow.
- Roger (Garry): Estate agent looking to let Flavia’s and Philip’s house.
- Vicki (Brooke): Works for the tax authorities and is trying to woo Roger.
- Philip Brent (Freddy): Lives out of the country with his wife Flavia to avoid paying taxes and is on a secret visit.
- Flavia Brent (Belinda): Philip Brent’s wife. She is dependable, though not one for household duties.
- Burglar (Selsdon): Old mam in his seventies, breaking into the Brents’ house.
- Sheikh (Freddy)