Noises Off is

The cast of the film:

  • Carol Burnett - Dotty Otley / Mrs Clackett
  • Michael Caine - Lloyd Dallas
  • Denholm Elliott - Selsdon Mowbray / The Burglar
  • Christopher Reeve - Frederick Fellowes / Philip Brent
  • John Ritter - Garry Lejeune / Roger Tramplemain
  • Marilu Henner - Belinda Blair / Flavia Brent
  • Nicollette Sheridan - Brooke Ashton / Vicki
  • Julie Hagerty - Poppy Taylor
  • Mark Linn-Baker - Tim Allgood

In Noises Off, Frayn makes use of the old tradition of the play within a play, specifically the variant in which a repertory theatre company is touring around performing a play, which is then also shown on stage (cf. Kiss Me Kate). Under the direction of Lloyd Dallas, the company perform a classic farce entitled Nothing On. (There is even a facsimile of the entire theatre programme included in the playscript of Noises Off.) At the same time the actors and actresses have to cope with their own personal problems such as ageing, falling in and out of love, jealousy, and professional envy.

Noises Off has had successful runs on both sides of the Atlantic and also in German-speaking countries. While playwrights such as Ray Cooney are keeping up the tradition of the English farce, Frayn's play is a deliberate send-up of that tradition. (Noises Off is partly inspired by Frayn's experiences with his earlier play Chinamen, which was straight farce; he once commented that during a performance of that play, the chaos behind the scenes was often more entertaining than the action on-stage.)

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