Noises Off Themes

Themes


The theme of fragile egos pervades Noises Off as playwright Michael Frayn skewers the melodramatics of people with artistic temperaments. Throughout the play, the director and actors’ need to be important ultimately undermines their production. Lloyd clearly thinks of himself as above the task he has been hired to undertake. His boredom and aloof frustration in the first act indicate his high opinion of himself. His explosions at both Brooke and Freddy are hypocritical because he is upset with their questions but unwilling to provide them with the answers. The ultimate proof of Lloyd’s ego is his attempt to carry on relationships with both Brooke and Poppy.

Garry and Dotty are likewise egomaniacal in their behavior. Whenever Dotty makes a mistake onstage, she blames it on someone else. Since she is putting up the money for the production, she does not think she has to work as hard at keeping her lines and props straight. When she gets mixed up on her first exit, she insists that Lloyd has changed something. She insists that the show is a humble effort on her part, but she has clearly chosen the play as a vehicle for herself. In Act Two, she deliberately waits until the last possible moment before taking her place for the top of the show. She also makes a big deal out of her attempt to take the higher road and be strong during her confrontations with Garry. Garry’s thin-skinned nature reveals itself most during this altercation. He is insanely jealous because Dotty went to dinner with Freddy. Whenever he sees someone in physical contact with Dotty backstage, he assumes it is some kind of sexual liaison.

Freddy’s ego is displayed in a less ostentatious manner, but is no less persistent. Freddy’s main problem is his inability to get past any question he has in his head. When he cannot make sense of why he carries his props offstage, Lloyd must invent an emotional reason to assuage Freddy’s concerns. Later, Freddy...

(The entire section is 678 words.)

Ed. Scott Locklear