IT might be one of the greatest British comedies ever written and celebrating its 40th but Noises Off is still as fresh as when it was first staged in 1982.

The latest production of Michael Frayn’s comedy classic opened in Bath this week with a stellar cast led by Felicity Kendal, Jonathan Coy, Matthew Kelly and Tracy-Ann Oberman.

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-off-stage antics of a touring regional 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-Lyne seen entirely, and hilariously silently, from backstage, before audiences share their final, brilliantly catastrophic performance in Stockton-on-Tees, it’s a real hoot from beginning to end.

After a slow start in Act One, director Lindsay Posner’s new production of Frayn’s award-winning farce finally gets into its stride in Act Two and has the audience rolling in the aisles.

With such talented and experienced actors as Kendal (Dotty Otley), Coy (Frederick Fellowes), Oberman (Belinda Blair) and Kelly (Selsdon Mowbray), it’s bound to be a sure-fire hit on tour.

Felicity Kendal shines as the ageing regional actor on her final tour and staggers around the stage forgetting her lines with a plate of sardines in hand.

Jonathan Coy gives a new pathos to the role of Frederick Fellowes, who is usually a figure of fun, but is here played as past his best and struggling to keep up with younger cast members.

Tracy-Ann Oberman twinkles as Belinda Blair and acts as a foil to Coy’s Fellowes, while watching the production fall apart as other actors fall out behind the scenes.


Matthew Kelly, as the bumbling and alcoholic burglar Mowbray, is constantly in search of another bottle but always manages to remember and deliver his lines with panache.

Alexander Hanson, as the production director Lloyd Dallas, and Joseph Millson as grandstanding lead actor Garry Lejeune, just about steal the show and, alongside Sasha Frost as Brooke Ashton, generate most of the laughs and the slapstick comedy.

The cast is completed by youngsters Pepter Lunkuse (Poppy Norton-Taylor) and Hubert Burton as the harassed stage manager and stagehand respectively.

Noises Off appears at the Theatre Royal Bath to Saturday (October 1). If you haven’t already seen it (and I never had before) it’s well worth the ticket.

To book, contact the Theatre Royal Bath Box Office on 01225 448844 or book online at