I’ve always liked films and plays that are about films and plays themselves. Maybe it’s because there is still a part of me that would have like to have been “an actor.” (Said term must be pronounced with the air of exaggerated sophistication that implies the lack of same.) Noises Off is one of my favorites. It has an all-star comedy cast featuring Michael Caine, Carol Burnett, Denholm Elliott, Julie Hagerty, Marilu Henner, John Ritter, and Christopher Reeve. The story is about a group of actors in a touring company performing a comedic play that they hope will head to the big time. In this case the action behind the scenes is as funny, or funnier, than what is taking place on stage. The film gives us a chance to the see the action from both sides. From the front we see the play “Nothing On,” from the back we see the interactions among the actors. There are affairs, personality conflicts, and drinking to the point of drunkenness. The term “noises off” comes from the direction that backstage sounds are to cease, something that doesn’t exactly happen backstage in the movie.
Noises Off is a comedy based on the play by Michael Frayn. It is a fast paced and driven movie that reminds me quite a bit of some of the best skits from the Carol Burnett Show. In most plays backstage is an area of controlled chaos. In the case of the backstage action in Noises Off remove the word controlled. If you like a good, semi intelligent comedy mixed with slapstick and outrageous personalities you should give Noises Off a try.