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Noises Off

33 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0573619694
ISBN-10: 0573619697
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

This extremely popular play-within-a-play by Tony Award winner Frayn has been newly revised for its Broadway revival. Because of its complexity, it is a demanding read. Acts 1 and 2 are actually the same act performed at different times in different theaters: the first presents the final night of rehearsals for Nothing's On, a sex farce, in which the director, seated in the audience, shouts direction to the actor on stage; the second is the same act but seen from backstage during a touring performance less than a month later. Act 2 is formatted in double columns, allowing the reader to follow the actor in character on stage and the same actor out of character off stage and the folly that he or she is involved with behind the scenes. Act 3 comprises the same cast performing another play, Noises On. Complex it is, and as clever and as concise as something this multileveled can be. Written by a man with a vision, this is recommended for academic and large public libraries. Elizabeth Stifter, Brooklyn, NY
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


“Written by a man with a vision... Recommended.” ―Library Journal

“The funniest play written in my lifetime” ―Frank Rich, The New York Times

“Frayn's construct is based on the principle that if farce involves watching the wheels come off a well-oiled machine, then nothing could be funnier than seeing the wheels fall off a farce itself. Pure comedy gold.” ―The Guardian

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 184 pages
  • Publisher: Samuel French, Inc. (February 10, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0573619697
  • ISBN-13: 978-0573619694
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #151,689 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michael Frayn was born in London in 1933 and began his career as a journalist on the Guardian and the Observer. His novels include Towards the End of the Morning, The Trick of It and Landing on the Sun. Headlong (1999) was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, while his most recent novel, Spies (2002), won the Whitbread Novel Award. His fifteen plays range from Noises Off to Copenhagen and most recently Afterlife.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Kristin S. on January 23, 2001
Format: Paperback
It's such a shame that both the script and the movie are out of print. "Noises Off!" is the funniest comedy I have ever seen or read.
In "Noises Off!" a group of actors is preparing to stage a production of the smash farce "Nothing On." This is part of why this play is so funny: The play that the actors are butchering is hilarious in itself. All of the actors and stage hands are inept in their own unique way. They forget lines and stage directions, lose contact lenses and deal with a set that won't work right. In each act, at least one actor has it out for another. Flowers, bottles of alcohol and entirely too many sardines create havoc. Frayn reaches supreme physical and verbal comedy.
If you've seen it on stage, you know how funny it is (and how difficult to perform). But, the script contains hilarious "bios" of the actors that presumably appear in the playbill. And the side-by-side scripts of the second act (lines and directions for what is happening on stage and back stage) are really funny. This play is the funniest thing I've read!
Note about the movie: Unlike the movie, the play is not set in the U.S. Consequently, place names and terminology are sometimes confusing. And, the play ends differently than the movie.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By tvtv3 TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 23, 2006
Format: Paperback
NOISES OFF is the hilarious play within a play about a group of actors performing a touring edition of a British farce entitled NOTHING ON. The reader (and performers and audience members for that matter) are only allowed to see NOTHING ON from the first act. The first time they see it, it is the night of the dress rehearsal. The next time they see the act it is from behind the stage several weeks into the company's tour. The final act of the show is once again a performance of the first act of NOTHING ON, but seen from the front of the stage several weeks later. The hilarity involved ensues from the interactions of the performers and their relationships with each other. NOISES OFF displays that as funny as a play might be from the audience, sometimes it pares in comparison to the hilarity ensuing behind the scenes.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Pearlman on April 17, 2010
Format: Paperback
...I lose my mind with laughter. Most of the lucky minority of comedy fans who have discovered "Noises Off" probably have other favorite scenes. One bored Friday in the late '80's I scanned the movie reviews and was amazed that this movie, with its flawless cast, was playing. I hadn't seen one TV ad or movie trailer.

The film shows the insanity and eccentricities of the cast, crew, and director of a farce on its way to Broadway. The first half shows the dress rehearsal, which also shows us how the play is supposed to go. Next we see a feuding cast during a Miami Beach matineee, this time from backstage. By Cleveland all hell has broken loose. Will they pull themselves together by the Broadway opening? I'm not saying.

Watching this now (2008-2010), it's hard not to feel sad about the early losses of John Ritter and Christopher Reeve, with Denholm Elliott gone as well. Reeve, Ritter, and Burnett are the most spectacular of one of the best ensembles I've ever seen. Caine is the sardonic director, Marilu Henner is the upbeat cast cheerleader, Nicolette Sheridan the cast ditz (though she gets her lines right). Special mention to Julie Hagerty and Mark Linn-Baker as crew members running themselves ragged trying in vain to keep things together.

This is extra swell if you've ever been involved with theater at any level. It aspires to take everything that usually goes wrong with almost any production and shifts it into super-overdrive. I hope the cast and crew of this film had as much fun making this as I had watching it!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Gary F. Taylor HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 27, 2011
Format: Paperback
Although he critically lauded for a number of novels and plays, Michael Frayn is most specifically known as the author of NOISES OFF, an extremely popular play that had successful runs in London and New York and which has performed by virtually every professional, university, and community theatre group on the face of the earth, all the way from Finland to China.

In a general sense, NOISES OFF is basically a classic door-slammer farce, which presents a host of characters rushing around the stage and dodging in and out of various rooms in a series of humorous and increasingly confusing misunderstandings. But Frayn gives the genre a memorable twist: the play is about the performance of a play that goes hideously awry. Act One finds the director rehearsing the cast on the stage, and although the play opens tomorrow the cast seems remarkably ill-prepared, dropping lines, misplacing props, and only toward the end of the play's first act seeming to get things together. Time passes, the play opens, and in Act Two we see the same act performed--only this time from back stage. Romantic complications have set in and the cast is in an uproar, and while we hear their voices as they "perform" on the "stage," our backstage view allows for a fast and furious and almost entirely silent war between various actors. Still more time passes, and in Act Three we again see the stage from the audience point of view. Unfortunately, by this time the entire performance has gone to hell in a handbasket, and even the stage curtains collapse on the players, leaving them to wallow helplessly.

A script is basically a blue print for a performance and not really intended to be read.
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