Described by the Guardian as “two hours of continuous laughter,” this beautifully crafted and charmingly English play was Ayckbourn’s first great West End success, opening at the Duke of York’s in 1967. Its theme of middle class marital misery and the mistaken identity gag became his speciality.
Greg (Bennett) and Ginny (Tointon) only met a month ago, but he has made up his mind that she’s the one for him. She tells him that she’s off for a weekend at her parents. He finds a scribbled address and decides to surprise her and ask her father for his daughter’s hand.
Sheila (Kendal) and Philip (Coy) are enjoying a peaceful Sunday morning breakfast interrupted by the two visitors. The only thing – they’re not Ginny’s parents…
All four cast members are a delight, on and off the stage. They happily signed my sketch after Friday night’s performance.
Large cast, Winter weather, exposed stage door (actually there are very few covered stage doors at London theatres) was the bad news. The good news was they were all good signers if you were good enough to meet them.
I required the nine cast members of Noises Off to sign my sketch at the Old Vic in January 2012. In alphabetical order – Jonathan Coy, Janie Dee, Robert Glenister, Jamie Glover, Celia Imrie, Karl Johnson, Aisling Loftus, Amy Nuttall and Paul Ready. In signing order – completely different. I consulted a few of the ‘zombies’ to figure out the exit and entry behaviour of the said nine – who arrives early, who pops out for a ciggy (and possibly siggy) breaks, who stays back after the shows making sure the Pit Bar makes a profit that week.
A single ‘hit’ visit looked unlikely. Once again I aimed for a Saturday matinée. Hopefully a staggered entrance over an hour wold enable me to get the majority of them. Some had already beaten me – drat – but luckily Robert required some lunch and was happy, as always, to sign.
Janie was also inside, but she was having a nap in preparation for the two performances ahead. It’s a physically demanding show, so I could understand her reasons but that didn’t help my mission. An hour out from curtain and I had all but Celia (who had gone in through the front door to sort some tickets out for friends, so I was told) and Janie. The following Tuesday I collected the duo coming out on my way home from a ‘stalking’ raid in the West End. A successful ‘play’ in two acts!