Michael Frayn's Noises Off, when it premiered back in 1982 in London (with Patricia Routledge) and when it opened in 1983 at the Atkinson (with Dorothy Loudon), was farce comedy par excellence; we didn't quite realize, in those days of Cats and Torch Song Trilogy, that broad, knock-down stage farce could not only be viable but classy.
An awkwardly insecure girl from the tenements of New York is forced, by societal conditions and a lack of viable options, into marriage to her boss; motherhood; and such continued repression that she finally takes matters into her own hands--mighty pretty hands, all the men tell her--and brutally murders her husband.
Levenson keeps us guessing -- and keeps us curious about his secret -- for about two-thirds of the evening. The secret finally spills out, immediately followed by the most engrossing scene in the show. After which the tension, and our attention, dissipates and the 100-minute play starts to seem overlong.