This is a another 'first' for me as a reviewer - "Noises Off" was the first play I'd critiqued, way back in the pre-COVID August 2019 (!).
I'll do my best not to compare the two productions - this way lies madness.
For first timers, the show is about a cast putting on a show, and how cast chemistry affects a show. At the start (Act 1), it's the last rehearsal before opening night, and things haven't quite jelled yet. By Act 2, they've been together for a month and the show is getting out of hand because some of the cast wants to kill some of the other members, and rest are trying to prevent that while making the show go on; by Act 3, it's near disaster. Comedy ensues and abounds. One of the best things about this script is that if you flub a line, forget a line, forget a prop, stumble, go left instead of right...no one in the audience knows. It's a constant state of chaos that makes me think some adlib almost has to occur to pull it off well.
I don't want to spoil the show, but having seen two decent versions so far; the script for Act 1 is very much setting the stage for Acts 2 & 3, and your patience will be well-rewarded later.
The set wasn't my favorite - one wall panel was fabric, the rest drywall or plywood, and every door slam or quick walk past by a cast member that fabric panel rippled. My SO and I agreed it was an unneeded distraction. The entire set needed to rotate between acts, and from my experience with WDPAC this was a very nicely done set - two floors, nine functional doors, at least one good window, one staircase facing the audience and two back stage. It's quite an undertaking, so that fabric panel was odd to say the least.
The acting highlights (and there were no 'bad' options here, it's very much an ensemble production):
Your first exposure to Tim Allgood (played by Jenn Ackerman Lopez) is during the pre-show setup of the stage, but after the curtain is open; Tim is main stagehand who, by Act 1, has been awake for 48 hours, and in the dark before lighting comes up is moving furniture and shuffling offstage. I actually said to my SO 'What the heck was THAT?!', not realizing Director Jenny Congiardo had the actors performing already (!). It was a great touch, and Lopez put on quite a show as the overburdened stagehand.
Mrs. Clackett/Dotty Otley (Laura Cooper) had a broad English accent that stood out without, in my opinion, being easily placed on a map. By Act 3 she's a riot, and Cooper was in fine form.
Sydney Breedlove portrays Vicki/Brooke Ashton, the cast ingenue. Initially I thought Breedlove was leaning a bit too much in Luna Lovegood as a character choice, but it eventually grew on me and I enjoyed Vicki's vacant stares into space.
The Director of the internal play is Lloyd Dallas (Adam Cornett), and he is initially anxious to wash his hands of this farce while doing his best to get hands on the cast members more directly. Cornett carries this frustration and anguish well, and keeps the energy circulating when on stage (which isn't enough, but that's the script).
Roger/Gary Lejeune is played by J. Lawrence Kenny, and his character is equally lost and manic. Kenny does each equally, but there's a chasm between the two that doesn't really get bridged, and there's no discernable buildup between them. I believe it's a scripting issue more than an acting choice.
The cast drunk is Burglar/Selsdon Mowbray, acted by Max Wadley. Selsdon is drunk pretty much the entire show, and Wadley does well dealing with an accent and being plastered.
This was a well done group effort, and deserves to been seen by a lot more people. Get your tickets before word gets out! Runs until May 9th.
Grade: A- (go see it - hurry up!)