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Noises Off

A comedy by Michael Frayn

Anything that can go wrong will go wrong in this delightful farce about putting on a play.

Department of Theatre & Drama

February 16 - 19, 2012

Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre


The Story: In a provincial English town, a theatre troupe rehearses a touring production of a sex comedy, Nothing On. Unfortunately, almost nothing is going right – the cast can’t remember their lines, they mix up their blocking, misplace props, and they’ve lost sight of why they’re acting! Even the director is certain that the show will be a disaster. Somehow the cast pulls through, but by mid-tour the drama has moved backstage, as cast and crews’ personal lives start to mirror the insanity in the play, with sexual dalliances, jealousies, and chaos reigning overall. By closing night, the play is in complete shambles both onstage and off, with open “warfare” occurring among cast members and everyone simply trying to survive until the final curtain.

Background:  Masterfully constructed, Noises Off is the “most dexterously realized comedy ever about putting on a comedy” (NY Times). Playwright and novelist Michael Frayn (Democracy, Copenhagen) devised the concept for Noises Off while watching another one of his plays from backstage. “It was funnier from behind than in front and I thought that one day I must write a farce from behind.” With an ingenious structure that showcased the action both onstage and off, Noises Off premiered in London in 1982, garnering immediate acclaim. NY Times critic Frank Rich, who saw the premiere as well as the Broadway production in 1983, proclaimed the work “The funniest play written in my lifetime.” Join us for an evening of rollicking hilarity and virtuosic timing.

The play contains some mild sexual innuendo. Recommended for ages fourteen and up.



Reed Campbell (San Francisco, CA), Avery DiUbaldo (Aurora, CO),

Shannon Eagen (Southfield, MI), Naz Edwards (guest artist),

Casey Hanley (Mill Valley, CA), Sophie Hindley (UK),

Zoe Kanters (Vulcan, MI), Eric Krawczyk (Portage, MI),

Philip Maxwell (Kalamazoo, MI)

Noises Off graphic by Chris Purcell

Artistic Staff

Director John Neville-Andrews
Scenic Designer Gary Decker
Costume Designer Katelyn Rouse
Lighting Designer Rob Murphy
Sound Designer Colin Fulton
Stage Manager

Laura Cohen


The American Theatre Wing interviews playwright Michael Frayn


Click here to view photos from Noises Off.


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Photography Credits:

U-M Photo Services

Joe Welsh

Peter Smith

David Smith

Glen Behring

Tom Bower