by Michael Frayn
17. December 2022
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We are at the Grand Theatre in Weston-super-Mare. It is January 14, shortly after midnight, one day before the opening night of Nothing On, and the dress rehearsal is in full swing. Forgotten lines, jammed doors, chaotic props, lost contact lenses, inebriated actors – director Lloyd Dallas and his cast are desperate. Because the naked truths of the play give way to backstage revelations: dressing room gossip and love tangles, administrative horrors and nerves. What is a nightmare for those concerned becomes a tumultuous, chaotic comedy for the audience. It is presented with three variants of the first act only: a rehearsal first, then – and here the audience changes sides and follows the events from backstage – one of the first performances, and finally, a desolate show that marks the long overdue end of the tour.
“It was funnier from the back than from the front”, said Michael Frayn after watching a performance of his play Chinamen from the side of the stage. Inspired by this experience, he began to write the comedy Der nackte Wahnsinn (Noises Off) in 1982, creating a theatre company whose efforts to make the show a success feels like a struggle for life or death.
Anne Lenk, who most recently directed Molière’s Der eingebildete Kranke in Hanover, will stage this mad fight for (theatrical) survival with a great faith in life and the theatre, true to the play’s motto: “Opening night is tomorrow, we only had two weeks to rehearse, we have no idea what we’re doing, but, well, does anyone ever know?”