Noises Off

Noises Off is a play by the English playwright Michael Frayn. The idea for it came in 1970, when Frayn was watching from the wings a performance of The Two of Us, a farce that he had written for Lynn Redgrave. He said, “It was funnier from behind than in front, and I thought that one day I must write a farce from behind.” The prototype, a short-lived one-act play called Exits, was written and performed in 1977. At the request of his associate, Michael Codron, Frayn expanded this into what would become Noises Off. It takes its title from the theatrical stage direction indicating sounds coming from offstage.

The Commentators, including the legendary Zia Mahmood, were out in force for the third session and kept the audience entertained with their lively discussions, which were not always confined to bridge, with Poker and Golf being just two of the other sports to be mentioned. There was some excellent bridge too.

b12

b13

West led the six of clubs and declarer won perforce with the ace and played a spade to the king. She ruffed the club return and calmly played the two of hearts from her hand. East won with the seven and played a third club and declarer ruffed and cross ruffed hearts and spades for eleven tricks, +600.

b14

East led the queen of clubs and declarer won with dummy’s ace, played a diamond to the queen, East pitching the two of clubs and played a heart to the jack and queen. West was not slow to return her remaining trump and declarer won in hand and played a spade to the king. When East was able to win with the ace declarer could only ruff two hearts in dummy and had to go one down, -100 and 12 IMPs.

b15

b16

South led the four of diamonds and the defenders played three rounds of the suit. Declarer won in hand and ran the jack of spades to North’s king. The heart switch was taken by dummy’s ace and declarer played a thoughtful  club to the ace, followed by the queen of clubs. When South won with the king two more diamonds meant the contract was two down, -200.

b17

South led the queen of hearts and continued with the eight when it held, declarer winning in dummy and playing a club to the queen and king. South returned the three of spades and when declarer played low North won with the king and played a third heart. Declarer won with the king, cashed the clubs and then overtook the jack of spades with the queen and cashed the ace, one down when the ten did not fall but it was worth 3 IMPs.

Suppose declarer unblocks the jack of spades under the king? Now North must be wide awake and switch to the ace of diamonds and a diamond – how easy would that have been?