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Noises Off

4.17  ·  Rating Details  ·  11,578 Ratings  ·  137 Reviews
Called the funniest farce ever written, Noises Off presents a manic menagerie as a cast of itinerant actors rehearsing a flop called Nothing's On. Doors slamming, on and offstage intrigue, and an errant herring all figure in the plot of this hilarious and classically comic play. "The play opens with a touring company dress-rehearsing Nothing On, a conventional farce. Mixin ...more
Paperback, 96 pages
Published January 31st 2015 (first published January 1st 1982)
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Best Lighthearted Literature
239th out of 304 books — 321 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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notgettingenough
Sep 19, 2009 notgettingenough rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-lit
I've seen this three times. It's the most clever play, hysterically funny, really laugh-until-it-hurts-funny, but it has to be done by somebody top-notch. Happily, I've only bombed out once.

Michael Frayn suffers from being an all-rounder. I once read some advice he gave to aspiring writers. Find one thing to say and keep saying it, that's what people want out of an author. All-rounders are never respected. Luckily for most writers, they do only have about one thing to say.

Frayn couldn't be furth
...more
Junofive
Jun 15, 2011 Junofive rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those in theatre
One of the funniest things I've ever read!
My first exposure to Noises Off came from a class in college, where it was listed on the course syllabus. We read portions of the text in class, and actually disrupted the class above us because we were laughing so hard and so loud.
It's very difficult, at first, to keep track of who is which character and when. Once you get past the initial difficulty, it's just a roller coaster ride of fun and hilarity.
I will say, though, that most of the humor in
...more
Emily
Aug 14, 2013 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This play is Hilarious. I wish I had seen it while it was on Broadway, especially with the cast on the cover of the book (Patti LuPone,Peter Gallagher, Richard Easton, Katie Finneran, T.R. Knight, Thomas McCarthy, Robin Weigert, Faith Prince, and Edward Hibbert). As I laughed through reading this play it brought me back to my early college years when I saw The Dinner Party on Broadway. I laughed so hard during that play I cried! So after hearing that there was a film version of this play I immed ...more
Tony
Feb 04, 2016 Tony rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
NOISES OFF. (1982). Michael Frayn. ***.
My ultimate star rating for this play in three acts is meaningless. It could really range from one star to five stars – all depending on how much of the play you were actually able to absorb from a reading. I found this to be the least readable play that I have ever encountered. The reason for this is simple: it is a play-within-a-play work that has to come out as a coherent three-dimensional drama while working with a two-dimensional communication form – t
...more
Olivia
Dec 03, 2015 Olivia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Noises Off is like macaroni and cheese to me. I loved the movie from the moment I saw it, probably around 10 years ago. I've watched it many times and practically have it memorized. I finally got to see the play on stage a couple weeks ago, fully expecting it to be a letdown because it wasn't Carol Burnette and John Ritter etc., but I loved it! I then decided I needed to read the script.

I had seen the script in high school, remembering that it was crazy how thick it was, full of stage directions
...more
Lauren
Dec 11, 2011 Lauren rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
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
...more
Joy
Aug 11, 2013 Joy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Noises Off is hilarious. It begins with a company performing the final dress rehearsal of the fictional sex farce, Nothing On. The first act provides the set-up for the completely hysterical second act and the disastrous finale. Frayn establishes the cast of characters so perfectly that when things fall apart backstage during the tour in the second act, every moment is laugh out loud funny. The interaction between the players is quick, sharp, and pitch-perfect. By the conclusion in the third act ...more
Neil
Sep 11, 2011 Neil rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A farce of a farce--farce squared. A group of rather unfortunate actors try to put on a play while various affairs, alcohol problems, rivalries, and psychological problems gum up the works. It's difficult to read, particularly the second act where the action happening on stage runs down one side of the page while the action happening backstage is on the other. While the movie was entertaining, I don't think it captured everything here completely.
Bridgette
Oct 08, 2013 Bridgette rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, plays
A really good time! How? How is it that a writer can make a can of sardines so funny? I loved every character and every hysterical predicament the actors put themselves in while trying to put on their show.
Barth Siemens
Jun 01, 2016 Barth Siemens rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, plays
This was highly amusing. Oddly, I feel like walking around with a plate of sardines in striped boxers. Read the damn book.
Dorothy
Aug 24, 2012 Dorothy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Noises Off is one of the most entertaining and brilliant farces I've ever encountered. Every character has his place, every line has its purpose, every scene creates mayhem and hilarity. The play, separated into three acts, is about a group of actors, a director, and two stagehands trying to put on their very own farcical comedy, but drama and destruction ensue in the funniest of ways, making "Nothing On", the play within a play, a living nightmare for everyone on set.

I've always been exceptiona
...more
Whitney
Feb 14, 2016 Whitney rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theatre
Reading this is a really interesting experience because you have to keep so many simultaneous actions in your head. I was trading off between this and another novel for a bit, and I realized that this one needed my full attention. It's really funny, even just in the reading, but I didn't know Peter Bogdanovich filmed an adaptation! I'm definitely going to watch that.
Shea
Jul 23, 2009 Shea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had more trouble reading this play than any other play I have ever read, including Shakespeare. There is so much going on. I really enjoyed it and we watched the movie version of the play as part of our library group discussion. I got more out of watching the play/movie having read it first but it was definitely more fun to watch than to read. The movie version was hilarious and the cast was absolutely outstanding...Michael Caine, Carol Burnett, Christopher Reeve, John Ritter, Marilu Henner, J ...more
Jennifer
It's hard to get people to laugh out loud while they're reading, but by Act 3, I could barely keep reading because I was laughing so much. I laughed until I cried, I laughed until my stomach hurt, I laughed until the cat got really annoyed.
Coenraad
Jul 01, 2015 Coenraad rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Michael Frayn puts the mad ánd the cap into madcap with this thrilling farce. The troupe of actors performing the farce 'Nothing on' suffers from internal strife and compromised professionalism. Love, hate, alcoholism, violence-induced nosebleeds and a veritable school of sardines join flowers, props and a cactus in causing havoc. It is fascinating to see the words lying dormant on the page after having seen the play on stage as well as the filmed version (which remains remarkably true to the or ...more
Nicolas Reynoso
Jun 05, 2015 Nicolas Reynoso rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Noises Off may be one of the funniest plays I have ever read. The play starts out with a hapless theater group putting together a play by the name of "Nothing On". The only issue being that they are rehearsing the night before the show, and are still forgetting basic stage directions. The second and third acts follow the hapless cast as they tour around various cities, with each version of their play getting worse and worse.

One thing that I think is the best part of the whole play would be the p
...more
Rebecca
I'd read this farce a number of years ago; I re-read it immediately after seeing the current Broadway production to see what had been in the script and what had been added. (The entire second act is essentially in pantomime, so there's enormous room for elaboration in staging.) I'm having a lot of trouble rating this because of the difficulty in evaluating it as a object to be read rather than performed. Some plays, like much of Shakespeare, work as well if not better on the page than on the sta ...more
Emma
Aug 17, 2013 Emma rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If the live production is as hilarious as the script, I'm in! I loved everything from the characters to the stage directions. A quick and fun read - highly recommended for someone who loves a good farce.
Megan
Dec 06, 2014 Megan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love this play. I think it is clever and funny and the characters (of the actors and the roles they play) are lovable and well-crafted. It isn't hard to keep track of who is who. The second act, where split into what's going on backstage versus onstage, is hilarious. My only complaint is that I feel totally stressed out while watching and reading it -- and it never lets up! The ending is funny but it doesn't really give closure. I prefer the ending in the film where at least you see what every ...more
Eli
Oct 08, 2014 Eli rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theater, favorites, 2013
One of my most favoritest plays in the entire history of ever, whether onstage or in script form. Even the stage directions are hilarious!
Andrew
May 17, 2012 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A difficult read, but it is worth it. A very smart comedy. Lloyd Dallas is a very fun character.
Toni King
Jul 29, 2012 Toni King rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Toni by: Jason Simon
One of my favorite shows of all time!
Linda
Feb 26, 2016 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh my, another read that made me snort with laughter. I'd seen the play in the past. Reading it was quite a trip since there are two plays going on side by side, one on stage and one backstage. It took some mind juggling! There are funny things in the written version that I didn't see during a staged version. For instance, there is a fake cast biography full of amusing things such as, "He was last seen on stage in the all male cast of The Trojan Women."
Great fun.
Rachel C.
A farcical play-within-a-play involving the cast of a fictional sex comedy called "Nothing On." The whole thing is seen from backstage, as the personal lives of the "actors" start interfering with the mechanics of the play - cues are missed, lines are misspoken and plates of sardines are misplaced.

Frayne shows he has the skills of a master conductor to create and shape seeming chaos - girls running about in their underwear, doors being open and shut, characters climbing up and down stairs, in an
...more
Marc
Jan 13, 2016 Marc rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, drama
Enjoyed the concept, saw the movie a long time ago but never saw live production - it's a play that is better seen performed than read because of all the visual antics and things that go wrong... having worked in theatre on many shows, I can appreciate it more perhaps because I know first-hand what it is like to produce a show from rehearsal process to opening night performance ... and the stress, errors, etc.
Dylan Kawalec
May 12, 2015 Dylan Kawalec rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A true comedic master piece. It's a Titan though, the stage directions are a lot to engulf and wrap around your imagination. I would love to see this be performed. Every line I laughed at least a little. The set up is perfect, the approach is magnificent and the characters are mind bogglingly hilarious. Don't watch the movie, read this first!
Melda Dinçel
Jan 19, 2016 Melda Dinçel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is a very good play to read. I haven't seen it on stage but as a reasse I could easily follow the stage directions, draw a line between the characters and see how the plot is evolving. It is a funny play with absurd twist but this is what human life is all about anyways. Definitely recommended.
Brendan
Sep 20, 2014 Brendan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the most difficult scripts I've ever read, especially given the fact that the last time I saw it was as a young teenager. However, despite the plethora of stage directions overlapping "backstage" dialogue, I really loved this and have a deep desire to see it staged locally.
Vrixton Phillips
Sardines?

I played Selsdon in High School [without the cursing and the third act, due to time constraints] and I've never had so much fun in my life. The movie is also incredible. Dottie will now and always be one of my favorite characters.
Jay
Aug 26, 2015 Jay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Noises Off is one of the funniest plays I have ever read. Seeing how it works backstage in the middle act is brilliant, because the audience doesn’t normally see all the things that can go wrong without causing a visible hitch in the show. Except when they actually do, as act three shows.

I laughed so much. I need to see this performed. I would love to perform in it someday… soon, in fact.
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Michael Frayn is an English playwright and novelist. He is best known as the author of the farce Noises Off and the dramas Copenhagen and Democracy. His novels, such as Towards the End of the Morning, Headlong and Spies, have also been critical and commercial successes, making him one of the handful of writers in the English language to succeed in both drama and prose fiction. His works often rais ...more
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“Why did *I* lock the door? Why did YOU lock the door? Someone locked the door...” 3 likes
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