In a farce, even the silliest of lines will make you laugh. And Michael Frayn's comic masterpiece “Noises Off” has all of the elements of a great farce: exaggerated characters, improbable plots, slapstick comedy, pants falling down, ….and more laughs than you can shake a fish at.
By Tom Valentine
For the News Tribune
In a farce, even the silliest of lines will make you laugh. And Michael Frayn’s comic masterpiece “Noises Off” has all of the elements of a great farce: exaggerated characters, improbable plots, slapstick comedy, pants falling down, ….and more laughs than you can shake a fish at.
The Cumberland Theatre made a great choice by selecting “the greatest farce ever written.” The plot involves a play within a play where a troupe of actors prepare for Opening Night of their show called “Nothing On.” The highly original concept has us see the final rehearsal in Act 1. Then the stage revolves in Act 2 so the audience can see what goes on backstage during the same show. Another turn of the stage and we see in Act 3 - at the end of the show’s run - the disaster the play has become….. (“Nothing On” - not “Noises Off’).
Well, Lloyd the director has been seeing both Poppy and Brooke. Poppy is actually a stage manager and Brooke is playing Vicki. Roger, who is really Garry, is actually played by Matt. And Garry has secretly been seeing Mrs. Clacket, who is played by Dotty - who is really Julie. Garry wants to kill Freddy, whose wife has left him and now suffers with nose bleeds. Brooke, who is played by Katie, is actually Vicki in the play. Her difficulty with her contact lens happens at all the wrong moments. Tempers flair when Poppy sees Lloyd kissing Brooke and Garry spies the same kissing Dottie. Or was it Freddy kissing Dottie that makes him mad?
Or maybe they are all mad at the constant drinking of Selsdon - who is played by Jim - who is actually a burglar in the play…..sometimes.
If that doesn’t clarify things - think of bags moving, doors slamming, props disappearing, bottles being moved and moved again, along with an ax, some flowers, and those darn sardines!!
Director Matt Bannister has created a fast-paced - make that a frantic-paced - production. Act Two will keep you watching the props, characters, exits, entrances, and flowers, wondering how the actors themselves can keep them straight.
All of the actors in this ensemble piece deserve kudos: Julie Herber, Matt Bannister, Matt Baughman, Katie Culligan, Eric Alexis, Kimberli Rowley, Jim Wicker, Kirk Yutzy, and Courtney Feiman.
There is nothing like a good old-fashioned plate of……farce.
Performances continue this weekend with performances Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Reservations available by calling 301-759-4990 and tickets can be purchased online at www.cumberlandtheatre.com