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  1. Wealth
December 13, 2011

Noises Off

By Spear's

Melinda Hughes is deliriously exhuasted at the Old Vic, watching actors tearing around the set with precision drawn calamity

I’M A HUGE fan of The Old Vic and was lucky enough to be invited to the last night and after party of Richard III, as well as work as an operatic installation in the Old Vic Tunnels, a rather creepy labyrinth underneath Waterloo Station. It had taken me an hour to find the entrance (in the middle of an imposing graffiti tunnel.) The director talked me in on his mobile phone:‘Yes dear, past the hoodies and to the left of the cabbie car-wash’, but once inside this space — recently acquired from BRB (formerly British Rail) — had been transformed to the most spectacular party venue.

The Old Vic Tunnels is home to cutting-edge events, theatrical, musical and cinematic and serves as a stunning and original party setting. It is home to the wild and twisted ‘Boom Boom Club’ and in January a production of Eugene O Neill’s The Sea Plays will be a unique experience. I strongly advise you to get in touch with your more adventurous side and experience this unique place. Forget The Box, with its inflated prices and gratuitous acts, this is real edgy performance art and this is where it’s at. Just get your driver to pick you up.

Under the innovative and influential leadership of Kevin Spacey, The Old Vic theatre is going from strength to strength and this Christmas, during our elongated recession, what could be better than a good old fashioned farce to get them rolling in their seats?

Lindsay Posner achieves just this and as backstage and on stage merge, chaos ensues in this comedy classic. The plot is simple, um no it isn’t… well the cast are in rehearsals for a touring production and relationships become strained between the actors as a complex love triangle between director, stage manager and actress is revealed.

There are plenty of theatrical in-jokes, door slamming, farcical moments involving far too many plates of sardines and lots of slapstick delivered with superb comical timing. Just one split second delay of an entrance could ruin a superb gag so I can’t think how much rehearsal this play must have had and how complicated it must have been to assemble. It reminded me of my rural touring days: ‘There’s quite a crowd at the back of the house stalls’ exclaims one of the cast as the curtain is about to go up.

I was deliriously exhausted watching these actors tearing around the set with precision drawn calamity. Amy Nuttall is a draw following her recent role in Downton Abbey and her wonderful delivery resembling Bambi in the headlights with her long limbs and dumbstruck presence is superb. Janie Dee is wonderful as the over-caring luvvie trying to pull the cast together as relationships backstage deteriorate, complimented by superb performances by Jonathan Coy, Jamie Glover and Robert Glenister as their delightfully pompous yet long-suffering director

The real treat, however, was right from the first scene when Celia Imrie walks on stage with the first plate of sardines in a moment where Acorn Antiques is brought to life again. She had everyone roaring with laughter. It was a delight to be entertained by such a wonderful and acclaimed cast. So never mind the Eurozone, the break up of our coalition and our reverting to splendid isolation, just think of these poor actors on tour. Now that’s stressful.
by Melinda Hughes

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