The actors in Noises Off have to play two parts. And they have to play them three times.
First, in Michael Frayn’s 40-year-old farce-within-a-farce, they must play the roles in a creaky sex comedy called Nothing On. They take on an assortment of adulterers and tax avoiders making their exits and entrances on a set with more doors than seems feasible and more plates of sardines than seems wise.
Second, they play the performers who must grind their way through the preposterous plot night after night. They are an old-school weekly-rep troupe working the small-town circuit; this week, Ashton-under-Lyne, next week, Stockton-on-Tees. In their way, they are as archetypal as the cut-out characters they play. There is the clueless ingenue, the nice-but-dim leading man and the boozy old pro. [READ MORE]