Noises Off

Details: New Wimbledon Theatre, The Broadway, Wimbledon, London SW19 1QG
Tube: South Wimbledon Station

Michael Frayn's tale of theatrical antics and disasters was a hit in the 1980s. And it's carried on going strong, with productions at the Comedy theatre, the Piccadilly and now the New Wimbledon theatre. In fact some of the humour is reminiscent of a Carry On film, focussing as it does on nudity, slapstick and confusion.

But there's something very theatrical about Frayn's clever comedy. For one thing, it features a play within a play, taking as its premise the thwarted efforts of one doomed acting company to stage a play - a fact gratifyingly pointed up by the program within the program designed to inform theatregoers of the characters' backstory. For another its basically a farce, with the added pleasure of seeing every characters' exit from on-stage chaos as an entrance into back stage mayhem.

As the stage manager is forced to replace the leading lady and the director manages to seduce them both, the set rocks as much as the laughing audience. And however engaged you are, don't be fooled - this chaos is carefully choreographed.

- Helena Thompson