Assistant to the Director:
Noises Off is Frayn’s enduringly uproarious depiction of what goes on (and what goes wrong) backstage during a theatrical performance. The play chronicles the rocky final dress rehearsal and subsequent disastrous performances of a sex farce called Nothing On. As the cast and crew of a third-rate touring company attempt to negotiate the farcical demands of the play- within-the-play—fast entrances and exits, cases of mistaken identity, clothing quickly doffed and donned—a hilarious parade of madcap backstage mishaps threatens to derail the proceedings altogether. Leading actress Dotty Otley can’t remember her blocking. The whiskey-slinging elder statesman Selsdon Mowbray is constantly disappearing. Ingenue Brooke Ashton keeps losing her contact lenses, newbie Frederick Fellowes just wants to know his motivation, and backstage love triangles threaten to become love trapezoids (which threaten to come to blows).
A feat of precise timing and comic agility, Noises Off manages to serve as both a send-up of the modern sex farce and a valentine to the form, mocking its triviality while simultaneously delivering an extremely well-crafted example of the genre.
FEMALE CHARACTER DESCRIPTIONS:
Dotty Otley / Mrs. Clacket: (Off stage Dotty) A late-middle-aged American actress. Forgetful. Dating Garry, though she attempts to make him jealous by meeting with Freddy. (On Stage Character: Mrs. Clackett): A Cockney Housekeeper for the Brent's home in England. Hospitable, though slow.
Brooke Ashton / Vicki: (Off Stage: Brooke) A young inexperienced American actress. Pays no attention to other performers, either in performance or backstage. She seems as though she is not really present – like she is somewhere else inside her head. Is always losing her contact lenses. One-third of a Lloyd–Poppy–Brooke love triangle. (On Stage Character: Vicki): An English woman who works for Inland Revenue and is trying to woo Roger.
Belinda Blair / Flavia Brent (Off stage Belinda): Cheerful and sensible, a reliable American actress. She may have feelings for Freddy. (On Stage Character: Flavia Brent): Phillip Brent's English wife. She is dependable, though not one for household duties.
Poppy Norton-Taylor: American Stage Manager. Emotional and over-sensitive, and envious of Brooke, whom she understudies. Carrying Lloyd's child. One-third of a Lloyd-Poppy-Brooke love triangle.
MALE CHARACTER DESCRIPTIONS:
Lloyd Dallas: The director of the play, Nothing On. Temperamental. One third of a Lloyd–Poppy–Brooke love triangle.
Garry Lejeune / Roger: (Off stage: Garry) An American actor who never finishes a sentence. Always is completing sentences with, "you know..." Easily fired up, repeatedly tries to attack Freddy after believing that Dotty was cheating on him with Freddy. Speech affectations disappear onstage but are everpresent offstage. Dating Dotty. (On Stage Character: Roger): An English Real estate agent who is attempting to rent Flavia's and Phillip's home, but uses it for his own personal benefit.
Frederick Fellows /Phillip Brent / Sheikh : (Off stage: Freddy) An American actor with a serious fear of violence and blood. Gets nosebleeds easily. Often questions the meaning of his lines and moves. Blames himself often for things going wrong. (On Stage Character: Phillip Brent): An Englishman who lives out of the country with his wife Flavia to avoid paying taxes. He enters the country knowing that if he is caught by Inland Revenue, he will lose most of the year's income. (On Stage Character: Sheikh): A Middle-Eastern, Interested in renting Flavia's and Phillip's home and is the spitting image of Phillip.
Selsdon Mowbray / Burglar: (Off Stage: Selsdon Mowbray): An elderly alcoholic Englishman who hides his bottles onstage. If he is not in sight while rehearsing, the stage crew must find him before he passes out. Is hard of hearing when he wants to be. (On Stage Character: Burglar): Old Cockney man in his seventies, breaking into the Brent's home.
Timothy Allgood: An over-worked American Assistant Stage Manager. Understudies Selsdon and Freddy.