Tamar Saphra directs The Noises, a visceral new play about fear, courage, the nature of violence and what we’re prepared to do for the ones we love. This new show, longlisted for the 2017 Bruntwood Prize for Playwrighting, will receive its world premiere at The Old Red Lion this April, starring Amy McAllister.

The Noises is at The Old Red Lion Theatre 2nd – 20th April 2019.

You’re directing The Noises at The Old Red Lion, what can you tell us about it?

It’s a play told entirely from the perspective of a dog named Luna. Luna listens to and deciphers The Noises she hears from within the confines of a room she has been locked in in her suburban family home. She hears her only friend, Ellie, leaving the house in a flurry of teenage angst. The hours pass, Ellie hasn’t returned home, and slowly the world outside begins to crumble as she listens, and is prompted to share her own story. Whilst it’s a play about a dog, it’s also very much a play about being human – it interrogates the emotional relationships with one another, and the power these have to help us understand and cope with chaos.

You’ve had a very special collaboration on this piece, haven’t you?

Yes, it is special! The playwright is my mother, Jacqueline Saphra, who is chiefly a poet, but began her creative career writing for theatre. We’ve worked together a number of times over the past few years on various projects and events, but this is our biggest and most exciting collaboration to date.

Where did the inspiration for The Noises come from?

Mum can probably answer this better than me, but I do know that it came from a number of different places. She works from home a lot, and our family dog sits with her most of the time. She’s a rescue dog, and is quite nervous, especially about noise. On fireworks night she quite literally tries to dig through the floors and the walls to escape. Mum started to wonder if she had a voice, what it would sound like, and how animals like her might interpret or cope with a real disaster. Through the distance of a non-human voice, she wanted to home in more deeply on our very human madness, our dependency on one another and the decisions we face around action and inaction in reaction to a world in crisis.

Sound is an important element of the play, tell us more about that?

Sound is very much another character in the play, and the audience hear the world as if through Luna’s ears. There are three layers to this. The first is that we listen to the family – Ma Jane, Pa Declan and their teenage daughter: Luna’s beloved Ellie – through the closed door. The second is the world outside the house, where some kind of unfamiliar chaos is descending. The third is comes in a subtle form of audio description. The play is accessible to blind and visually impaired audiences, so audio description is integrated into the sound design and into Luna’s dialogue itself.

What challenges have you faced directing this play? 

We’re only just started rehearsals, but I anticipate the biggest challenges will lie in finding the blurred spaces between human and animal that we want to explore, and working in the layers of sound design as integrated into the narrative.

What would you say to anyone thinking of coming to see The Noises?

Come with open hearts and minds, and come prepared to be challenged. It’s certainly experimental and unusual in form and in its use of language, but it’s also funny, wonderfully silly (this is a play entirely from the perspective of a dog, remember) and extremely playful and entertaining.

Greg is an award-winning writer with a huge passion for theatre. He has appeared on stage, as well as having directed several plays in his native Scotland. Greg is the founder and editor of Theatre Weekly


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