For those unfamiliar with the play, can you tell us what it's about?
It's a play within a play. The audience has a view of it being staged at three distinct times: the dress rehearsal; a matinée a few weeks later, this time viewed from backstage with the set turned 180 degrees; and a disastrous show a few months after.
Each act follows the steady and alarming deterioration of the interpersonal relationships between the cast and crew and their hilarious attempts to keep the show on the road.
Missed exits, improvisations, confusion - all the tropes of farce are in there. And because of the additional layer of the play within a play structure, there is an innate appreciation of the theatre and its myriad demands.
Why did this project appeal to you as a director?
This is a play that bridges the gap between an audience seeking entertainment and serious theatre aficionados. On one hand you can simply submit to the gags and multiple exits and confusions and walk away with a stitch in your side from laughing. But every member of the audience will appreciate the stagecraft required to create the illusion of a play within a play.
For me, there is another aspect: as one who has been on stage, it is very difficult to explain the draw, the romance, the fascination that theatre elicits from an actor, a crew member, a director. Noises Off, really, is a play that speaks to the heart of every theatre person and provides a channel whereby this can be shown to the audience.
Granted that it has a farcical structure, but deep down it still is about actors who love their craft, do their best given their circumstances and submit themselves completely to the "the show must go on" creed.
Are you a big fan of Frayn?
Frayn's script is flawless, managing to evoke laughter and still maintain the romance an actor shares with the stage. While he is well-known for his early comedies, he is now more in the news for such serious drama works as Afterlife and Copenhagen.
How did the Third Half Theatre group come to be?
It's a new group. Noises Off is a very challenging play and we needed to build a core team with the right blend of technical expertise and stagecraft to pull it off. Third Half Theatre's manifesto is to make no excuses whatsoever for theatre born and nurtured in Dubai and to subject ourselves wholeheartedly to the rigour of audience critique.
How did you find your cast?
I have been fortunate to be part of Dubai's theatre scene for almost a decade now and the friendships developed over the years were my go-to cast members. I have worked with a majority of the cast over the years on several plays.
We also have new members, some of whom have been involved in theatre in their home countries or in Dubai with different groups. We've all come together - different backgrounds and nationalities, all working professionals with demanding careers, to get this show on the road.
Noises Off is on at Ductac, Mall of the Emirates, Dubai from Thursday to Saturday. Tickets start from Dh70. For more information, call 050 874 9752