That's the only for it - exhausted. Having come back from seeing this production, and the monumental amounts of energy generated by this cast, that's the only word left. I'm exhausted.
'Noises Off' is a comedy about the acting side of theater - and all the personalities and quirks contained therein. The cast is putting on a road show of 'Nothing's On' (and bravo to Melon Patch for including in the program a copy of the PlayBill for 'Nothing's On', with the character's bios, play info, etc, etc) and for Act 1, it's the final rehearsal and it's not going well. Hilarity ensues. Or at least planned hilarity ensues. For whatever reason, Act 1 was my least favorite with a few Laugh Out Loud moments, but mostly smiles really. At the first intermission (there are 2, between the three Acts), I was working out the best possible way to spin this because Act 1 wasn't matching my expectations.
Without giving spoilers - Acts 2 & 3 completely overwhelm my expectations and cement this show as meeting the reviews I'd heard.
My timing here was bad, to an extent. The actor playing the show Director Lloyd (J. Scott Berry in the program) broke his arm yesterday; the actor playing Tim (Darren Aklan) stepped up to the role of Director, and stage hand Joshua Rodgers took on the role of Tim. So the performance I watched had two 'newbies' in the role, and the cast chemistry did appear a bit off, but they still put on a heck of a show.
The highlight performer (and they were all good!) was Caitlyn Nicholas as Belinda/Flavia. Her comic timing and expertise was the best on this stage, and she rose to challenge every scene. Aimee Bangle (Poppy) also showed a good range and timing, but was confined by the script in the Act 1 and wasn't given much of a chance to shine until Act 2. Sally Wade's Dotty/Mrs Clackett was marvelously scattered in Act 1, manic in Act 2, and wonderfully snarky in Act 3.
The male cast ranged from somewhat condescending and disconnected (Dustin Layne as Garry/Roger) to horribly goofy and annoying (Jonathan Olsen as Frederick/Phillip) to the dotty alcoholic (also with great comic timing) played by Richard Behrendt as Selsdon/Burglar. While many of those descriptors are negative - their portrayals were well done indeed.
As noted, Acts 2 & 3 were fantastic, and Laney Clark's direction is a Master class in expert direction. How they don't fall faint halfway through or actual damage one another is a miracle.
And the set! The audience applauded during both scene changes during each intermission - which is a first for me. Full credit to Harold Miner for the design of that set.
I'm truly sorry I didn't get to this show before the 6th of a 9 show set. It deserves to sell out the remaining nights, and will only get better as cast changes really lock down their parts.
- EVERY bottle that was used had liquid in it. THANK YOU.
- Set Design and build were well-made to support multiple characters running up and down the stairs, and Dustin Layne tested the strength of the railing (the audience gasped!) and the stairs by rolling down them. Again, WELL DONE!
Rating: A-/B+, family friendly although <12-13 year olds probably won't understand what's occurring. Book your tickets now while they're still available!