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Noises Off is a knockabout treat at His Majesty's Theatre. Picture credit - Pamela Raith

What, you might ask, is Nothing On all about, then? Doors and sardines is the answer which the weary director of this old school farce might give you.

Hang on, though. What’s this got to do with Noises Off, the icnonic comedy now running at His Majesty’s Theatre?

Think of it as a play-within-a-play – a two-for-one, if you will.

Noises Off follows the assorted cast of Nothing On as they prepare for the opening night of a UK tour – and it’s not going very well at all.

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Sardines and doors to the fore in Noises Off at HMT. Picture credit - Pamela Raith

Leading lady Dotty Otley – the always excellent Liza Gordon – doesn’t know whether she’s coming or going with the multiple plates of sardines central to the farcical action.

Meanwhile, the many doors – the opening and closing of which are vital comedy moments and cues – won’t open or close. Misplaced props and missed lines abound.

And fading old thesp Selsdon Mowbray – a lovely turn from Matthew Kelly – needs to be kept under constant supervision to ensure he doesn’t get sozzled. Which turns into a game of hide and seek with a whisky bottle.

It’s all old-school farce, with dropped trousers and girls in their scants, for Nothing On

But the genius of Michael Frayn’s Noises Off comes from making the many and myriad mishaps of rehearsals – and the tour – funnier than the farce itself.

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Matthew Kelley puts in a delightful turn in Noises Off at His Majesty's. Picture credit - Pamela Raith

And this ramps up into classic comedy in the second act, when the set flips around and we see the action from backstage, as the fractious cast are now into full-on scrapping with each other, while trying to stay quiet as the show plays out on stage.

This is the big beating heart of Noises Off – a wonderful sequence of glorious and beautifully choreographed slapstick, from swinging fire axes to fast switcheroos with that whisky bottle – played out in silence like a Keystone Cops film. It’s just wonderful to watch.

It’s just silly knockabout nonense but with a sparkling script, full of great one-lines and a brilliant ensemble cast who have honed their comic timing – and pratfalls – to perfection.

And Noises Off really has stood the test of time, having just celebrated its 40th anniversary with a West End revival that led this welcome UK tour. If nothing else, it’s a reminder of where The Play That Goes Wrong folk got their inspiration.

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Slapstick at is best with the cast of Noises Off at His Majesty's. Picture credit - Pamela Raith

Certainly, the HMT audience lapped it up providing a rich and nonstop laugh track to the action on stage – and rewarding it with a rousing standing ovation as the curtain didn’t so much come down as fall disastrously.

Great fun and worth catching at His Majesty’s before the run ends on Saturday 18 November. You can find more information and tickets here.

Review by Scott Begbie