Backstage goings-on bring farce to theatre audiences

Noises Off dress rehearsal pix

Noises Off dress rehearsal pix - Credit: Archant

Watching the show from backstage is not normally an option for Abbey Theatre audiences - but thanks to a double-sided set design they will be able to at the Company of Ten’s upcoming production of Noises Off.

A critically acclaimed example of the play-within-a-play conceit, the Michael Frayn comedy charts the misadventures of a touring theatre company as they stage an embarrassingly poor farce.

In Acts One and Three the audience watches the first act of the fictional show from in front of the stage, while in Act Two the same act is seen from backstage, with the onstage action glimpsed only through doors and a window.

In order to show the antics of the cast both in front of and behind the scenes, the Company of Ten construction team has had to built a uniquely challenging set – a double-sided revolving structure which shows the interior of a renovated 16th-century posset mill (the set of Nothing On) on one side, and the backstage of a fictional theatre in Ashton-under-Lyne on the other.

As if this did not pose challenges enough, the set also has two storeys, three staircases and 10 doors. Said stage manager, Paul Davidson, “The playwright gives very specific notes on exactly how the set should look. The hard part has been the logistics of making it work on our stage.”

The set took almost three weeks to build, with up to five people working on it every day to get it finished on time.

Noises Off can be seen at 8pm tomorrow and Saturday, at 2.30pm on Sunday and again at 8pm from next Tuesday to Saturday, May 12 to 16.

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To book tickets go to or call the box office on 01727 857861.