Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Review of "Noises Off"

The revival of Noises Off is not only consistently funny, but a wonderment in precision acting and movement.  This modern day farce, with slamming doors and frequent missteps, is a highly choreographed piece of theater magic…and mayhem.

The play begins as an inept British acting troupe is in the throes of final rehearsals.  The assorted thespians, bungle their lines, their entrances, and make a general mess of everything, much to the agony of the harried director.  In the beginning of Act II the company is near the end of their tour of the provinces.  Nerves are frayed and backstage shenanigans and hanky-panky among the players has left many hard feelings.  We see the exact part of the play from Act I, but from a backstage vantage point.  Audience members can see all the behind-the-scene pandemonium and discombobulation.  The latter portion of Act II is a third rendition of the play which, at this point, is a hopeless mess as the cast valiantly presses forward.

Playwright Michael Frayn has written a valentine to lovers of the theater, both for actors and audiences.  He delivers a lovingly slapstick, extremely clever and humorous show.  There is not one wasted scene or extraneous moment in the script.

The cast members are all outstanding and work so well together, which is absolutely critical for the show to achieve its diverting objective.  The more notable performers include Andrea Martin as the veteran character actress Dotty Otley.  Martin is pure and simply hysterical, but why should that be a surprise?  Throughout her career, no matter what the production, Ms. Martin has always been a beacon of comedy virtuosity.  Campbell Scott is hilarious as the director Lloyd Dallas.  His slow burns and growing frustrations with his charges are priceless.  David Furr is marvelous as the befuddled actor Garry Lejeune.  Megan Hilty is beautifully bewildered as the blonde bombshell Brooke Ashton.

Director Jeremy Herrin deserves special commendation for the exactitude he brings to the production and his meticulousness to detail.  He guides the cast, sometimes at a dizzying pace, with both nuanced, subtle performances as well as outright uproariousness, producing an always lively, very funny show.   

Noises Off, a thoroughly engaging, often side-splitting comedy, playing through March 13th at the Roundabout Theatre Company.

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