A VERY unusual incident caused the premature end to comedy play-within-a-play Noises Off at Storyhouse Chester on Thursday, February 8.

A packed audience had come to see the celebrated play, featuring stars Liza Goddard, Simon Shepherd and Paul Bradley, as it runs throughout this week until Saturday.

The play follows the on and off-stage antics of a touring theatre company where mishaps and mayhem threaten to derail fictional farce 'Nothing On'.

But shortly into Act Two of Thursday night's performance, the show in which things go wrong had an unintentional addition from the theatre's air conditioning system.

The ventilation system mistakenly believed a fire had occurred within the building, and as a result triggered the complete opening of its vents above the stage, exposing the stage to the outside elements.


Noises Off has been performed in Storyhouse Chester this week. Publicity picture by Pamela Raith Photography.

Noises Off has been performed in Storyhouse Chester this week. Publicity picture by Pamela Raith Photography.


That led to the unusual sight of rain beginning to fall on the indoor stage. Combined with the loud noise generated by the air conditioning system, the performers were shortly directed off the stage for safety reasons, as the audience at least appreciated the irony of the situation.

Sadly, despite the best efforts of Storyhouse's technical team, the decision was made after about a 35-minute delay to cancel the remainder of that night's intended performance as the vents refused to comply with stage directions and remained stubbornly open, leaving the stage wet.

Sincere apologies were offered to those in attendance and those who had booked tickets would be contacted with information on rebooking tickets for another performance or refund details.

A spokesperson for Storyhouse said efforts are continuing to resolve the faulty ventilation system, with the aim that the remainder of the play's run and other shows can proceed as planned this weekend.

The spokesperson said: "Our team is diligently working to resolve the fault with our vents system. We currently have engineers on-site addressing the fault, and we are hopeful that all scheduled shows this weekend, including tonight's performance of Noises Off, will proceed as planned.


"We understand the importance of keeping our customers informed, and we are committed to providing updates as soon as we have confirmed information.

"Rest assured, we will promptly communicate with all customers regarding the status of upcoming shows once we have more details."

It is the second unusual incident involving ventilation systems to happen around the Northgate Development this year.

A couple of weeks ago, on Saturday, January 27, the New Chester Market and adjoining car park had to be evacuated for the day amid reports of customers being affected by fumes.

The cause of that incident was found to be the cooking of chilli oil, which wafted into the ventilation system.