Noises Off was the creation of the English playwright, Michael Frayn. In May of this year, it became the 20th college play to be produced by the New College Student Association. The directors, Ed Reeve and Sumer Dayal, chose this play for its comedic appeal. It is one of the funniest scripts I’ve ever read, says Ed, who is studying a Bachelor of Arts majoring in English and History. Noises Off is a farce about a group of dysfunctional actors, who are themselves, putting on a comedy. This makes Noises Off the fifth New College production, in just six years, to feature the device of play-within-a-play. The three acts of the play correspond to three different performances of the play-within-a-play. On each occasion the “off-stage” grievances between the characters intensify, while on-stage attempts to cover up a series of mistakes only compounds the problems and draws attention to the bungling performance.
In recent years, New College productions have tended to be scripted for large casts, allowing greater on-stage inclusion. This was not the case for Noises Off. The cast of nine was Crystal Moran, Adam Teusner, Liz Stern, Amelia Hurley, Erin Smith, Samuel Trotman, George Davis and Nick Sykes. “All the characters are evenly spaced in terms of narrative focus”, says Ed. “So even though it was a small size cast for a college play, nine distinct characters operating in stage space simultaneously makes for very high energy. The level of exactitude that was required for actors to deliver lines and perform actions was extraordinary. For the slapstick to work, everything had to happen at exactly the right time and place”. Several hundred people attended the four performances of Noises Off, and they were not disappointed. It really did look like a professional production, says Ed, who lives and breathes theatre. Noises Off is a production, which if done properly, looks absolutely incredible because nothing ever stops moving. The Master of the College agreed with him, indicating that …the cast and production team handled the technical difficulties with distinction and provided all of us with a hilarious night. It was wonderful!
Despite the smaller cast, there was certainly not a decline in College participation. Over 100 New Collegians gave of their time and talent to ensure the music, artistic design, set design, props, set construction, costumes, make-up, front-of-house, publicity and tech was just as accomplished as the on-stage performance. This massive team was led by producers, Josh Chakravarty and Daniel Foong.