Tears Of Laughter Flow at The Rep's Noises Off!
What an evening!....On stage. flapping doors are paired with movng plates of sardines through a hilarious night at the theater that brings tears of laughter to those in the seats. To continue The Milwaukee Rep’s 60th season, the company presents the classical farce Noises Off! to end 2013 at the Quadracci Powerhouse Theater. The hilarious production features numerous members of the current Rep’s Associate Artists working with accomplished debuting actors that left one audience member leaving the theater saying, “I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard I had tears in my eyes---and from laughing!”
If there might be a healthful antidote for acute holiday stress, the renowned Michael Frayn’s acclaimed 1982 play within a play Noises Off! would be a splendid solution. Frayn's story centers around a theater whose dress rehearsal and an evening performance go terribly amiss for a small British acting company. Three theatrical events, the rehearsal and two perfromances, unravel first on stage, and then behind the scenes, while the actors’ personal lives often conflict with their on set personas during a play titled Nothing On.
Whether seeing Noises Off! or Nothing On, the audience delights in actors who capture a perfect comic timing to carry this very difficult genre to joyous heights. Faryn employs multiple physical mishaps ably directed with split second accuracy by the returning KJ Sanchez. A director who knows how to stage the complex comedy when heightened by Don Conway’s nostalgic two story scenic design. Where the entire cast accomplishes the feat of making seemingly bad acting by the characters in the play incredibly easy while they alternately slide down stage posts or trip over footstools. All the phyiscal stunts endured without harming themselves or anything else on stage, except for a plate of sardines.
Gerard Neugent fearlessly stumbles and tumbles playing Garry Lejeune with amazing resiliency, even with his shoelaces tied together, while Laura Gordon endears Dotty Otley to her audience with the character’s sincere ineptness. Deborah Staples’ Belinda Blair lovingly cares for fellow actors behind the stage doors until she thinks someone else may be stealing her “man.” And playing the often drunken Seldson Mowbray, Jonathan Gillard Daly chases a bottle of beer from scene to scene, often miscuing his entrance through a broken window as the resident burglar.
Newcomer Joe Boersma acting as Tom Allgood runs through the Quadracci Theater aisles directing this motley cast until his romantic endeavors crisscross behind the scenes in the second act. Allgood simultaneously woos a very charming stage technician, Poppy Norton-Taylor played by Sara Zientek and the most attractive ingénue Brooke in the guise of Kelley Faulkner. Joe Demsepy clothed as Lloyd Dallas and Aaron Christensen, white sheeted as an Arab sheik and Frederick Fellowes, round out an outstanding cast. Where the longer one watches the performance unfold, the better the Rep’s Noises Off! production plays while the Nothing On production can humorously be called “left standing on its last legs" when the audience laughs out loud the entire third act.
While the Rep produces a less serious approach to the season in Noises Off!, holiday gatherings can often resemble these behind the stage antics. How much effort do families use trying to plan the outwardly perfect celebration, similar to producing a play? And then suddenly they have the tables turned to reveal these behind the stage door personal misunderstandings and mishaps that reduce the festivities to a "humbug" moment?
So wherever one is at this busy time of year, whether reveling in the Rep’s superb performance of Noises Off! or celebrating with family and friends at a seasonal get-together, whenever possible find time to chortle and smile. Let eyes bright with holiday cheer flow with real tears of joy and laughter.
For more reviews of The Rep productions, including A Christmas Carol, please visit www.broadwayworld.com. Otherwise,.The Milwaukee Rep presents Noises Off! in the Quadracci Powerhouse Theatre at the Patty and Jay Baker Theater Complex through December 22. For further information or tickets, please call 414.224.9490 or click the link to the left for www.MilwaukeeRep.com