note: entire contents copyright 2004 by Beverly Creasey
You know what they say: Dying is easy. It’s comedy that’s hard. They’re right. NOISES OFF has been my favorite play ever since I saw the Broadway import twenty years ago. Since then I’ve traveled from theater to theater, from pillar to post, in search of another exquisite production. I have been disappointed, sometimes horrified…until now. Hooray for the Lyric Stage Company of Boston!
The Lyric production may not be as fast as the original but director Spiro Veloudos and company get the shtick absolutely right. Some of the mayhem, which is now milked like a prized heifer, is made even more delicious in the pasteurization, as it were.
“Doors and sardines…that’s life,” says the fictitious director of the fictitious farce at the heart of NOISES OFF. If only that were true. If only life were as simple (and rewarding) as finding the right door or an infinite supply of hors d’oeuvres. If only the world would stop fighting and start laughing. They say a child laughs two hundred times a day where an adult is lucky to find two chuckles. Well, come play catch up at the Lyric Stage.
Michael Frayn’s brilliant farce about a hack company of actors trying to hold it together on tour is delightful, daring (like the man on the flying trapeze) and downright hilarious. If Sarah deLima’s maddeningly earnest Dotty doesn’t break you up, you’re made of stone. If Barlow Adamson’s nosebleeds don’t double you over, give it up.
Kristen Sergeant is perfection itself as the spacey actress in ruthless possession of her lines come hell or high water. Neil A. Casey’s comic restraint pays off when he can no longer bear the pressure and the cooker, if you will, explodes. The wildly funny David Krinitt is able to elongate his face before your eyes, in some sort of sleight of head and Bob Jolly only needs to speak and we’re convulsed. Jeremiah Kissel is marvelously thwarted as the bee herder: We take better direction than this hapless bunch. Happily for us, “the words do have a familiar ring’’ because familiarity in the case of NOISES OFF, breeds laughter.
Maryann Zschau shows off her peerless comic timing, rescuing her fellow thespians from the jaws of disaster time after time, to our delight. Jessica Healy, as the straight [wo]man merely has to roll her eyes as she tries to keep her balance in the eye of the hurricane.
Robert M. Russo’s dazzling “inside-out” set which lets us see backstage and front is a marvel of engineering. David Cabral’s costumes, especially for Ms. Sergeant (also a marvel of engineering) are what farce is about. As they proclaim at the end of the show, “There’s nothing like an old fashioned farce.” Laughter is the best medicine. You should go and be well.