Review by correspondent Tracie Borden.
If you’re not familiar with the plot of the play Noises Off, receiving a very funny mounting at the Connecticut Repertory Theater, the opening scene can be quite disorienting. It takes a few moments and several plates of sardines to get your bearings and understand that this is a play-within-a-play about the business of play-making.
|L to R: Steve Hayes, John Bixler, Jennifer Cody and Jayne Ng in NOISES OFF by Michael Frayn onstage at Connecticut Repertory Theatre through June 25. Tickets and info at crt.uconn.edu. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.|
The first act opens with the desperate, final rehearsal of Nothing On. The actors forget their lines, blow their entrances, and are generally confused and befuddled about such matters as props. And then there are those plates of sardines. With Act II we come upon the company of thespians, several months later, performing the show, rather badly, as seen from backstage. In the ensuing timeframe, the cast has developed overlapping romantic liaisons, which results in hilarious complications, fits of jealous rage and flowers and bottles of whiskey flying about the backstage area. In Act III we, once again, see the run through of Nothing On, but this time from the front of the curtain. At this point, as the show-within-a-show winds down its tour of the provinces, all semblance of order and refinement disintegrates hysterically before our eyes.
Playwright Michael Frayn has written a clever, extremely humorous comedy. He has crafted a play that is a joy for audiences to behold and for actors to perform. The author is a master of comedic wordplay as well as setting up physical challenges to the acting troupe.
|Michael Doherty and Jennifer Cody in NOISES OFF by Michael Frayn onstage at Connecticut Repertory Theatre through June 25. Tickets and info at crt.uconn.edu. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.|
The cast is a terrifically talented group. Standouts include Jennifer Cody, who plays the actress Dotty Otley. She has a bewildered and flustered demeanor that keeps the audience in stitches. Ms. Cody is fun to watch and also adds an athletic and physical bearing to her role. Jayne Ng brings is strikingly flummoxed as the blonde bombshell Brooke Ashton. John Bixler, as the flustered director Lloyd Dallas, is cool, sometimes calm, and not always collected as he repeatedly attempts to keep his merry band of misfits in line.
Director Vincent J. Cardinal gives the play a lively, disciplined sheen, which is so important in a show like this where one false move can spell disaster. He brings precision and exactitude to the production as well as eliciting both subtle and rollicking performances from the actors.
|L to R: Steve Hayes, Jayne Ng, Arlene Bozich, Gavin McNicholl, Curtis Longfellow and Jennifer Cody in NOISES OFF by Michael Frayn onstage at Connecticut Repertory Theatre through June 25. Tickets and info at crt.uconn.edu. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.|
Tim Brown’s set design is also a highlight of the show, switching from a stodgy drawing room to a multi-level backstage layout of a theater and back to a front view of the stage.
Noises Off, a very funny farce, playing at the Connecticut Repertory Theater in Storrs through June 25th.