Let me state this right now – my name is Cliff and I love farce. There, I’ve said it. Now read on, bearing that in mind.

This was a scream, frantic, fast, physical and featuring all the best elements of farce – misunderstandings, improbable situations, absurd characters, dropped trousers and stockings.

Michael Frayn’s Noises Off was written in 1982 and conceived when he decided The Two Of Us, a 1970 farce he’d written for Lynn Redgrave, was funnier behind the scenes than on stage.

Hence, we have the antics of a touring repertory theatre company as they stumble their way through the fictional farce, Nothing On. In a sense it’s a double bill, a play within a play, as the cast lurch from shambles to crisis to catastrophe.

It’s a three-act play, starting with the complete disarray of final rehearsals in Weston-super-Mare, the disaster of a matinee performance in Ashton-under-Lyme seen only from backstage and the final show of the tour in Stockton-upon-Tees where everything unravels beautifully. It builds marvellously from a slow start to an uproarious finale.

This production stars Liza Goddard, whose extensive stage comedy credits include Life of Riley, Communicating Doors, Season’s Greetings and Relatively Speaking and her TV roles have included The Brothers, Yes, Honestly and Give Us A Clue. She is the veteran actress Dotty Ottley to whom the script is more of a hindrance than a help.

Matthew Kelly, who co-stars, was last seen by me on this stage in his Olivier Award-winning role as Lennie in Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, and probably most well known to the public for hosting Stars In Their Eyes on TV. He plays the old soak Selsdon Mowbray, more familiar with the booze than his lines as a burglar.

The star-name trio is completed by Simon Shepherd, who shot to fame as Dr Will Preston in Peak Practice on TV and whose West End productions include Posh, The Duck House, Rapture, Art and Hay Fever. He portrays the director Lloyd Dallas, struggling to keep control of his troupe, and who spends most of the first act sitting in the audience, his booming voice bellowing undisguised revulsion at their uselessness and foibles.

However, director Lindsay Posner’s production is very much an ensemble effort featuring the likes of Simon Coates (as the trouser-losing Frederick Fellowes), Lucy Robinson (the uptight Belinda Blair), Lisa Ambalavanar (totty in lingerie Brooke Ashton) and backstage heroes Daniel Rainford (Tim Allgood) and Nikhita Lesler (Poppy Norton-Taylor) whose efforts to hold the whole thing together are as successful as shovelling snow with a toothpick.

However, the hero of the night is long-limbed Dan Fredenburgh, as Garry Lejeune, who plays a lascivious but frustrated estate agent in a style not far removed from Basil Fawlty. All floppy hair and looks, in turn, of sheer shock, terror, bewilderment, anger, he is the most physical of the cast (who are mostly not spring chickens but get around ever so well), especially when running up or tumbling down the stairs.

Add in many plates of sardines, a Sheikh, bunches of flowers, superglue, blood, a bottle of whisky and a ferocious-looking cactus, then we very much have the original play that goes wrong here.

And if the energy generated during this production could be harnessed, the climate change crisis would be ended at a stroke.

The set itself is a thing of beauty, squeezed on to the Theatre stage, with the aforementioned stairs and at least six doors for comic purposes. The whole thing is flipped for Act 2 to cleverly show the same thing from back stage.

It’s great to see good theatre back in Poole. The production runs until Saturday, with additional matinees on Thursday and Saturday.