Alex Jones

Playwright

Noise

Noise - Soho Theatre Production
Soho Theatre Production


Play Synopsis:

Produced and commissioned by Soho Theatre Company, April 1997, further productions include Teatro Valle, Rome, September 2006, Furious Theatre Company L.A. July-August, 2002 - production extended a further two weeks, Profiles Theatre Chicago, October-November 2004, and theatres in Portugal.

Becky and Dan, Teenage newly-weds and parents to be.

Full of hope, they're about to start a new life in the housing association flat they've just moved into. The only blot is the constant techno music pounding through the walls next door.

As the musical pressure increases, so the expectations start to sour.

Fault lines are exposed as the strain starts to show on Becky and Dan's relationship, reaching a climax as neighbour Matt comes crashing into their lives.

Noise Poster
Profiles Theatre Chicago Production


Play Reviews:

Financial Times: Alex Jones's very good and terribly distressing Noise is one of the most upsetting plays I have ever seen. It builds to a climax which, when it comes, has the audience writhing in their seats. Leaving the theatre afterwards, it took a long time to walk off the shock. It is distressing on many counts: and as with all plays that use violence, worrying; there are a couple of moves in it that are so sickening that they provoke objections. But when the shock has burned off, the main feeling is sadness - and that I suspect is the point. Alex Jones, like so many of our young playwrights is concerned with dramatising the hopelessness of the have-nots in today's Britain, and he does so with a force that is like being socked on the jaw. The play is very well written, exceptionally well directed (by Mark Brickman) and superbly performed. You care about Dan (Graham Bryan) and Becky (Samantha Redmond), and you feel you are in the same room with them. Redmond in particular in her perilously short maternity wear is most touching. Andrew Tiernan, meanwhile, as the neighbour from hell is like a caged lion and his sheer presence in the room is nerve-wracking. When he finally explodes you feel as if you are cornered yourself, and his assault on the couple is terrifying. No one could accuse Jones of glamorising violence. But there are always worries about violence on stage and the concern here is that it involves a pregnant woman... But then again, we live in a world where a girl can be bludgeoned to death while painting her patio doors and children gunned down in their school hall. Perhaps Jones's terrible picture of an alienated screwball destroying a life-to-be is the only logical response to such a violent world. He certainly writes with fury, passion and compassion about those whose voices are seldom heard - Sarah Hemming.

The Daily Telegraph: The nightmare that all urban dwellers fear - Plays don't come more upsetting than this one, and even I who have supp'd full of theatrical horrors, found myself trembling uncontrollably. It might therefore seem perverse to recommend the piece. Yet the author, Alex Jones, is clearly a powerful new voice in the theatre, and his shattering play seems particularly pertinent at a time when both major political parties have been criticised by the church for more or less giving up on Britain's underclass. The play explores lives of noisy desperation, the kind of lives we, and many politicians prefer to forget. Jones reveals compassion for his helpless characters, unable to cope, too scared to go to the police. Noise isn't gratuitously terrifying. It is terrifyingly persuasive - Charles Spencer.

The Glasgow Herald: Alex Jones's bleak new play could hardly be more timely - a paradigm of what has happened to British youth over the past two decades and how the loss of hope or any sense of belonging has led to a similar murderous loss of humanity... anyone who has suffered a similar fate at the hands of a neighbour's over-amped enthusiasm - and five tenths of last night's interval audience could be heard recounting their own particular experiences - will recognise the scenario. Jones has taken what is now a recognised social problem and turned it into a sad, pessimistic lament for today's generation. Jones's bitter-sweet, homely, but horrific warning makes clear, these Black Country lambs (Becky and Dan) are straight out of the Romeo and Juliet/West Side Story mould - innocents destroyed by a chaotic malignancy they are powerless to control - Carol Woddis.

Time Out - Critics Choice: A production which gets deeply under your skin, Andrew Tiernan festers with self-loathing and bristles with threat as mental Matt; his conversation over a cuppa with the nervous Becky is a masterpiece of tension and taut humour. Jones is not a flashy writer, but one who understands the banally expressive form and content of everyday speech.

The Times: Cruel but honest, Alex Jones's distressing but powerful Noise is premiered by the Soho Theatre: Back in 1967 the thugs who stoned a baby to death in Edward Bond's Saved did not get off scot-free. One of them went to prison amid off-stage displays of public fury. As his subsequent descent into raging Marxism showed, Bond was far from pro-police. Indeed, he pretty clearly regarded them as lackeys of an Establishment ultimately responsible for the very existence of stone-throwing baby-killers. But it did not occur to him that the laws against violence and murder could not and would not be enforced. Thirty years later, all of those baby killers would have remained at large and continued to terrorise a community too frightened, apathetic or callous to call the cops. At any rate, that is the inference of Alex Jones's distressing play. True, the violence in Noise is a bit less and extreme than in Saved, and its prime victim two months from being born; but if you asked me which urban jungle I would rather inhabit, I would take Bond's south London over Jones's Black Country - Benedict Nightingale.

The Independent: -Alex Jones's Noise taps with great effectiveness into the primitive fear that we are just a thin wall away from violence and chaos. As the play moves towards the climax whose menacing violence had one woman in the first-night audience sprinting to the exit, Jones paints an alarming picture of a society oppressed by fear and injustice, where people are left to go mad in boxes with only a sound system to obliterate the space between the walls and where these sick individuals can so terrorise communities that people are too frightened to got to the police. Many beautifully constructed scenes, but for me the most harrowing was the final one with the drained couple packing up to leave, having lost their baby and perhaps their raison d'être. Will their love survive a parting while she goes to rest at her parents and he looks for somewhere else? Outside, leaving them on edge through noise to the last, the impatient pipping on his car horn of the father come to reclaim his little girl - Paul Taylor.

The Stage: There is a sickening intensity to Noise, Alex Jones's debut play for Soho Theatre Company. His dark tale of a hopeful young couple being mentally and physically tortured and physically attacked left me with a shaky feeling in the pit of my stomach. It is a menacingly powerful piece of work. Top marks for Soho TC for being brave enough to stage it - Adrian Dawson.

AMERICA

Back Stage West - Critics Pick: It's anything but noise, this remarkably delicate work about a naive teenage couple facing the cruel world. English playwright, Alex Jones offers a deceptively simple tale, finely wrought with quintessential, but not clichéd characters essaying a fairytale life in the dark forests of modern living... The story has only one possible ending, but the reasons are manifold, and Jones lets us see each one, subtly but clearly. And the sophisticated, economical direction of Sara Hennessey enhances the story's feel of old-age wisdom in the face of dewy youth, while her actors offer clear-cut, gut-wrenching performances. Not a single moment rings false. All honesty occupies the space, putting tiny touches on moments that only a vivid imagination could create. This Noise is golden - Dany Margolies.

Pasadena Weekly: Furious Theatre makes noise with 'Noise' - In front of what may have been the best looking crowd I have seen at a Pasadena theater, the Furious Theatre Company presented the exclusive US premiere of Noise by Alex Jones. Well-directed and designed by Shawn Lee with excellent sound and design by Christie Wright, Noise captures the dreadfulness of not affording your own space in an increasingly populated world. The only sound anyone here wants to hear is the baby inside Becky's body. Not only good looking, but a full house too - John Esther.

Los Angeles Times - Critics Choice: 'Noise' Is Involving Look at Cost of Economic Depression - Echoes of John Osborne permeate Noise, receiving its US premiere by the Furious Theatre in Pasadena. Alex Jones' slashing drama of the perils of economic depression frequently suggests a latter-day Look Back In Anger... the grimy comic atmosphere soon darkens as blaring techno music from next door awakens the couple on their first night out and continually thereafter... Jones's impressive architecture occasionally tips the sociological hat, and the intermission is questionable, given the accelerating tension. But these are quibbles, though, as the nail-biting intensity of the disturbing climax demonstrates the acute impact this haunting work deserves David C Nichols.

Beverly Press: In the declining, even declined economy of a once flourishing steel town outside Birmingham, England, locally christened The Black Country, the depression that seized the huge industrial complexes of Great Britain when heavy industries went offshore has seeped into the psyche of the generations of uneducated, unemployed, unemployable lower classes who were the backbone of provincial England during its industrial heyday during and after World War Two. The situation faced by the boomers and their descendents is untenable at best, impossible at worst. A huge lethargy has overtaken the British underclasses who see little hope for any kind of betterment and have lost the incentive for growth. In Alex Jones' U.S. Premiere, "NOISE", Becky (Vonessa Martin) is pregnant, her new husband, Dan (Dámaso Rodriguez), is just starting a new job in a warehouse and they've been fortunate enough to snag a council flat, a feat only available to the underprivileged few who qualify by virtue of need. With very few survival skills, Becky and Dan have been spurned by their families, but have found support in each other. The council flat is horrible by any standard - ugly, peeling walls and cruddy, over-used furniture - but "we have our own cooker!" Becky exclaims joyfully on her first sight of a small, old-fashioned range. Not that she can cook or is interested in learning, but it's their own! As is the second hand TV a friend has given them as a wedding present, and the beat up stroller and hardly used potty Dan picks up for a song with his first paycheck. The only fly in the ointment is their next-door neighbour who plays his music loud and often, especially at night. In Act Two their music-abusing neighbour, Matt's intrusion into their life is savage and visceral. Dan and Becky are not equipped to deal with a psychotic neighbour and the events are violent and beyond ugly.

Playwright, Alex Jones draws his characters well; his play is a brutal indictment of contemporary British society and the ineffectiveness of the law, the establishment, or the system to give needed aid and comfort to those who fall outside the tightly sealed box. Martin is lovely as the innocent Becky, a smile away from a dirty-faced angel; Rodriguez is nicely tempered as the young husband who wants to do the best for his new family; James C. Leary is suitably horrible as the 'wild side' neighbour, menacing and ingenious at the same time, inciting first pity at the situation society has designed for him, then fear and loathing as the extent of his evil becomes evident. Director Sara Hennessy wields her baton well, getting the ambience right, building slowly to the second Act horror Madeleine Shaner.

Theatre Scope - Critics Pick: In its US premiere, this shattering new work looks at the thin boundaries between us all - David Elzer.

Los Angeles Times 'Theater Beat' - Critics Choice: - In its U.S. premiere, Alex Jones' 1997 drama about two Black Country teenage newlyweds and their antagonistic neighbour proves haunting and disturbing with director Sara Hennessy marshalling her estimable players to nail-biting levels of intensity and poignance.

LA Weekly: With a nod to Edward Bond's Saved, Brit playwright Alex Jones has crafted a kitchen-sink drama with a techno beat. 18 year-old Dan (Dámaso Rodriguez) and his 17-year-old bride (Vonessa Martin), have just moved into a Council flat - what we Yanks call "public housing" - in England's Black Country, an economically depressed area outside of Birmingham. Dan is eager to begin his "first proper job" as a manual laborer in a warehouse: Becky is ecstatic to be seven months pregnant. On their first night in their new digs, they're awakened by a neighbour's loud music. Hoping that this is a one-time-only occurrence, they do nothing. But after a week of sleeplessness, Dan complains to the Council Housing authorities, and the results are chilling. Although his presence is palpable in Act 1, the raucous neighbour (an intimidating James C. Leary) doesn't appear until Act 2, when he catches the sleep-deprived Becky alone. The drama is structurally shrewd - the tension never stops escalating, and the playwright wisely avoids pat solutions. Sara Hennessy's taut direction is well supported by Christie Wright's imaginative lighting design and Eric Pargac's thundering sound. Stacie Lee's intentionally dismal set buttresses the overwhelming sense of desperation. Sandra Ross.

KcRw Theatre Talk - Recommended: Alex Jones' "Noise" getting its U.S. premiere by the Furious Theatre Company is an intimate drama exploring the fine social lines in modern life, exposing just how thin our boundaries truly are. Dan and Becky are a teenage couple in the downtrodden industrial area of England called the Black Country, moving into their very first home in a public housing project with a baby on the way. Ah, the optimism of youth. Vonessa Martin and Damaso Rodriguez are completely charming as the parents-to-be, playing house and looking with astonishment at their future, feeling they can face it together. Until they're introduced to their neighbour by his driving, techno music, played at all times of day and night. What begins as a nuisance quickly turns into a nightmare when they try to negotiate civility with the angry, unemployed Matt (a volatile James C. Leary). Exceptional performances all round serve Jones' intelligent and illuminating script well. Jennie Webb.

Chicago Tribune - Critics Pick: Noise breaks your heart with dark simplicity in Carla Russell's raw, unflinching production of this affecting drama for Chicago's edgy and proficient Profiles Theatre. Alex Jones' one-room Noise is extraordinarily violent and desperately depressing. It also has a pair of young and forlorn central characters so empathetic, so lost, so loving, so hopelessly infused with the optimism of youth, you find yourself wanting to scoop them up and get them a gentler place to live. This is the kind of play that bothers you after the curtain goes down. And the next morning, it bothers you all the more. It's a bit like meditating on something by Harold Pinter, except that in this piece 'The Dumb Waiter' comes through the door and kicks the characters in their guts. Yet the oomph of Noise lies in its stylistic simplicity. Jones, a well-regarded young scribe from Birmingham, England, details his fledgling couple's hapless attempts at cohabitation with closely detailed affection. And as the neighbour from hell, Joe Hahraus finds that hideous place where brutality can almost be rationalized. And there's something about this aggressor - the noisy neighbour that taps into universals. We've all felt helpless when confronted by something we did not deserve but that brings us misery. Especially when there is little or nothing we feel empowered to do Chris Jones.

Chicago Sun Times: The visceral and terrifying Noise, with its throbbing sound design, is a very juicy play for actors and is performed swiftly and admirably by Profiles Christopher Platt.

ChicagoCritic.com - Critics Pick: Profiles continues its tradition for intimate, raw and intense dramatic works with Noise, Eric Burgher and Amy Spekien are marvellous! This deceptively simple work shocks us into realizing that economic depression sure has a cost in killing the human spirit. Noise dramatically jolts Dan and Becky's world and reminds us that a modern society must not leave anyone behind. Alex Jones' play will shake you and remind you to be careful when you challenge a neighbour's noise Tom Williams.