Noise Next Door: Soundhouse | Review by Hilary Wardle © Steve Ullathorne
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Noise Next Door: Soundhouse

Note: This review is from 2013

Review by Hilary Wardle

When it comes to fictional theatres staffed by lunatics, you can’t do much better than Noise Next Door’s Soundhouse. The sketch troupe create an immersive behind-the-scenes feel as they combine their improvised comedy with a running narrative about a day in the life at a very strange underground club. It’s like a version of Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge, but without the depressing bit at the end.

The Soundhouse staff are there to meet the audience as they come in. Charlie’s on hand as a fake security guard. Tom A (sporting a luxurious blonde wig) plays a waitress and Tom B, ‘a fat Frankie Boyle’, is the compere and manager. They buzz around as people take their seats, handing out sweets, chatting to people and getting in the way. It’s a good introduction to the haphazard, audience-driven nature of the show.

However, the strength of the Noise Next Door boys lies in their ability to turn shouted audience suggestions into improv comedy gold, not to prat about handing out Haribo. Luckily for us, they’re polished and as skilled as ever. We’re asked to throw some suggestions into the mix. The waitress is part animal, but which animal? The security guard has a strange addiction, but what?

These decisions will inform the action, so choose wisely. Thanks to one audience member, Sam (playing the Soundhouse chef) had to say the word ‘scrotum’ far more times in one hour than any non-medical professional ever should.

They then make up a great introductory song, complete with a fairly impressive synchronised dance routine, again based on hastily gathered suggestions. The boys deftly juggle all the nouns they’re thrown, turning a load of garbled nonsense into a jaunty, polished opening number. Justin Bieber could learn a lot from them.

It isn’t just words that are bandied around: they do a fairly swift trade in audience members too. One of the first people dragged up on stage is asked to impersonate a lighthouse, and does so incredibly well. In fact, you could say that he outshines the professional comedians (sorry). The rest of the audience participation also went off without a hitch, which is surprising given that some of that interaction involved getting three women up on stage, gyrating their hips in their face and singing about getting them pregnant. The Noise boys are lucky they didn’t get a slap, to be honest.

Thankfully, the rest of the show is a little bit less Operation Yewtree and the evening at the Soundhouse ends with a creative, playful and – most importantly- funny finale that sees a previously ignored member of staff finally getting the chance to shine. And in case you’re wondering: No, it isn’t the lighthouse guy.

Review date: 13 Aug 2013
Reviewed by: Hilary Wardle

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