Noises Off Is a Delight
By LAUREL BUSBY
Sardines, slamming doors, and silliness combine in Noises Off, a fast-paced farce that so delighted audiences last year that it has returned for an encore run at A Noise Within Theatre in Pasadena.
The British play, written by Michael Frayn in 1982, starts with a few chuckles and builds into non-stop hilarity. It also begins like a standard play, but soon, it becomes clear that this play is not following a typical formula.
For example, most actors are playing two characters—one is a character in the production, Nothing On, which is a play-within-a-play, while the other is the actor playing that part. The first act is also a dress rehearsal of Nothing On, and the actors and directors are having a hard time getting the show right.
After the first of two intermissions, the set is reversed so that the audience can look behind the scenes at the backstage world of Nothing On, which has now started its run and can be heard off-stage. Things seem to have gone from bad to worse for both the production and its actors’ love lives. After a second intermission, when the stage has again been turned to the front, the audience gets to see a version of Nothing On that has gone dreadfully and hilariously off the rails.
Directed by Julia Rodriguez-Elliott and George Elliott, who also plays the director of Nothing On, Noises Off includes lightning-fast entrances and exits as the characters whisk on and off stage to perfectly timed humorous effect. The laughs grow and grow, as each comedic scenario tops the last.
The play, which also had a multi-year run at A Noise Within from 2009-2012, is a favorite of the strong ensemble theater, and all of the actors from last year’s production have returned. The chaos, slapstick humor, and comedic joy is embraced and taken to extremes by the game cast, all of whom are superb as they dash in, off, and around the stage trying somehow to salvage the situation.
For tickets, which range from $25-$77, visit anoisewithin.org. Noises Off will play through June 9.