Curtain Call: Noises Off couldn’t be more on
The Brookfield Theatre for the Arts, Brookfield: Anyone who has ever done anything in theater must see this production of Noises Off at the Brookfield Theatre for the Arts in Brookfield. Audiences should start begging for tickets. This is such an outrageously funny production that no one should miss the opportunity to enjoy a good laugh out-loud comedy. There’s so much that is good about this production that it’s hard to believe that the storyline is really about sardines and slamming doors. It’s an English farce by Michael Frayn that has been around since the 1980’s, but it will never get old nor dated as long as there are theaters and actors. It is that universal. The title refers to the need to keep noises off backstage once the show begins. This is often easier said than done.
The premise of this farce, which is a play within a play, is that there’s far more action going on behind the stage than on the stage. The fun begins when actors in a play called Nothing On prepare for their final technical and dress rehearsal. Even though the show opens the next day, actors are still finding problems with their motivation for their characters. At this late date, this drives Lloyd Dallas, the director of the play, completely crazy. He just wants to get through the rehearsal from start to finish.
Considering that Dotty, a diva who is having an affair with Gary, the lead man, who believes that Dotty is cheating on him with Freddy whom Belinda favors, and considering that Lloyd the director is having an affair with both Brooke and Poppy, you know that tempers are going to flair up, but while the show is on, they must do so quietly. And oh, what they don’t do.
Add to this already backstage boiling pot the alcoholic actor Selsdon who has a way of disappearing with a bottle of whiskey whenever he is supposed to be entering the stage and Tim Allgood, the overworked stage manager who also plays understudy to the drunk.
What makes this play so funny is that in the world of theater, some of this really does go on. There is often a diva, but none so gifted as Priscilla Squiers, who plays the role with such finesse that you forget she’s acting. And she does it with a genuine English accent! There’s likely to be someone fooling around with someone and too many times there’s an actor who can’t go on without a drink or two under his belt. Every actor in this production plays their character with the utmost confidence and perfect comic timing. Director Scott R. Brill has managed to synchronize a scene in which one actor is about to hit another with an axe, when a second actor grabs it, and then a third and fourth, without missing a beat. It’s almost slapstick to the finest degree.
The cast is sensational with: Priscilla Squiers, Matt Austin, Duane Lanham, Anya Caravella, Jody Bayer, Tony Bosco-Schmidt, Ron Malyszka, Kate Valiska, and Eli Patton. All deliver superior performances. The set is amazing. Since it must represent backstage for the first act, front of house for the second act and backstage again for the third act, Andrew Okell’s design is a functional masterpiece. Watching the running crew switch it back and forth is as entertaining as it is intriguing. This is one show that you don’t want to miss. It plays through Nov. 19. Box office: 203-775-0023