Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Noises Off"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2007 by Tony Annicone

"Noises Off"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The first show of Providence College Theatre's season is "Noises Off" a 1982 play by Michael Frayn. The idea for it was born in 1970, when Frayn was standing in the wings watching a performance of "Chinamen", a farce that he had written for Lynn Redgrave. According to the playwright, "It was funnier from behind than in front" and he vowed to write a farce from behind. In theatrical stage directions, the term "noises off" specifies sounds that are meant to be heard from offstage. Frayn plays on the concept of a play within a play, in this case a play entitled "Nothing On" in which a young girl runs around in her underwear, men drop their trousers, and many doors continually open and shut. Each of the three acts of "Noises Off" contains a performance of the first act of "Nothing On". Act One is set at the dress rehearsal, the night before the opening with cast still fumbling with entrances and exits, missed cues, misspoken lines an bothersome props, most notably several plates of sardines. Act Two is one month later at a Wednesday matinee performance. In this act, the play is seen from backstage, providing a view that reveals the deteriorating personal relationships among the cast that have lead to offstage shenanigans and onstage bedlam. In Act Three, we see a performance near the end of the ten-week run when personal friction has continued to increase, everyone is bored and anxious to be done with the play. The performers attempt to cover up a series of mishaps but only compound the problems and draw attention to the bungling performance Much of the comedy emerges from the subtle variations in each version as off-stage chaos affects on-stage performance. The slapstick in the latter two acts is hilarious and is where the strength of this script lies. Director Peter Sampieri picks the best nine performers for each of these roles and infuses the farcical elements needed to leave the audience in stitches. The magnificent two story turntable set is by Michael Micucci which is a converted 16th century mill that has been turned into a modern dwelling for which renters are solicited.

The wild and crazy cast do many pratfalls and comic bits that are hilarious and are topnotch while doing so. Playing Lloyd, the womanizing director of "Nothing's On" is Devin Driscoll. He enters through the audience in during Act 1, chastising the performers for their missed cues but he really shines in the next two acts with his shenanigans with Brooke and Poppy with mistaken flowers and a bottle of whiskey being given to the wrong one constantly. Suzanne Keyes does a wonderful job as the absent minded, Dotty who has trouble remembering her lines, entrances and props in Act 1. She is secretly in love with fellow actor, Garry well played by the agile, Peter Cunis who runs up and down the stairs constantly and tumbles down a flight of stairs. Their constant arguments in Act 2 are hysterical especially the different sexual positions that Garry finds Dotty in with the other actors.The blonde sexpot, Brooke is played by Sarah Bedard who runs around in a bustiere throughout most of the show. She keeps losing her contact lens and in Act 3 she keeps saying her lines correctly even when she doesn't get the correct cue which is a hoot.Tax evaders and married couple, Freddie and Belinda are played by Justin Pimental and Elena Blyskal. Justin is excellent as the guy who keeps getting nose bleeds as is Elena who keeps trying to cover up for other people's errors in the last act. Brian McCormick is a hoot as Selsdon, the elderly man who is hard of hearing and is a lush. Michael Rubin is Tim who is the understudy who gets to go on in the last act as different characters and he is the techie for the show who needs to catch up on his sleep in Act 1. Kiki Tarkhan plays Poppy, the stage manager who is secretly in love with Lloyd, has an affair with him and blurts out she is pregnant at the botched up matinee performance which is a laugh out loud moment. So for a hysterical evening of hilarity, be sure to catch these wonderful performers in "Noises Off".

"Noises Off" (26 October - 4 November)
PROVIDENCE COLLEGE THEATER
Angells Blackfriar Theatre, 549 River Avenue, PROVIDENCE RI
1 (401) 865-2218

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