I was fortunate enough to see the opening night of Theatre Workshop's latest production, Noises Off, written by Michael Frayn and directed by Michael White.
I'll admit it. Before buying the tickets, I didn't know what to make of the description of Noises Off. It was described as a "play within a play", and "the world’s most hilarious British farce". That sounds like a tall order! Not only that, when John Shea rolled (literally) onto stage to give his introduction, I thought he might have been exaggerating. He welcomed us to the production, and shared that he has been sitting in the audience and laughing out loud through the last several weeks of practices.
Now I know: John Shea didn't exaggerate. The play was hilarious. Once again, I am ever so impressed with the performances our small community theatre manages to put on.
Noises Off is a 2.5 hour, three-act play, starring Laura Gallagher Byrne, Mark Carapezza, John Devaney, Gabrielle Gould, Asa Jean, Chapin Klein, David McCandless, Susan McGinnis, and Marian Pingree. The first act is 1.5 hours, but sets the scene/s for the following acts. As the audience, we are witness to a cast rehearsing a play. We see the rehearsal, the play itself, and all of the behind the scene tension. As with any group that works tightly together, there are some 'real life' romantic entanglements, disappointments, misunderstandings. As the acts progress, the laughs grow increasingly loud and frequent. These actors each play two characters, the 'actor' and the 'character', often assuming entirely different body language for each one. No small feat!
The acting is incredibly physical. In hindsight, we should have suspected when John Shea somersaulted onto the stage to give his introduction… The actors fall up and down the stairs, run into walls, and generally beat each other up. I would not be surprised if the entire cast was covered in bruises after opening night.
I'd highly recommend catching this play. Noises Off is playing at Bennett Hall (62 Centre Street) through June 2. Play times are: Thursday- Saturday 7:30PM and Sundays 3:00PM.