Mar 13, 2018
by Alexa Chipman
Backstage at a poorly rehearsed play about to go on tour, a fictional director emerges from the audience, exasperated at the train wreck he is about to set loose on the world. The company is confused by when they should carry props in and out of scenes, their set is falling apart, and interpersonal dramas among the players lead to cactus and whisky wielding mayhem. Playwright Michael Frayn gleefully mocks stock comedy tropes in the play within a play ‘Nothing On’ which descends into chaos as actors interrupt to ask about motivation, boxes end up in the wrong place, the elderly Selsdon goes missing, and Brooke drops her contact lens, sending the cast crawling all over the two-story set, designed by Gary Gonser and Conor Woods.
Director Craig A. Miller keeps his cast on the move with athletic staging and energetic melodrama. Poppy’s (Lillian Myers) nauseated expressions when catching a whiff of unwashed Selsdon are worthy of a silent film, matched by the exaggerated poses of surprise by Garry (Erik Weiss) and Brooke (Brooke McLaughlin) while rocketing through doorways, half-dressed. Costume designerJeannine Gray’s loud 1970s prints of magenta flowers and plaid fit right in with the tumult.
Insatiable gossip Belinda (Cecilia Senocak) alternates between mediating the peace and stirring up trouble with her pronouncements, and finds herself unexpectedly in a leadership position due to a whirlwind of unfortunate incidents sending the other players into chaos. Her mild-mannered counterpart, Frederick (John C. Browning), is blissfully self-absorbed, collapsing into fits of the vapors whenever violence ensues.
Puttering about, trying to avoid being tangled in the phone cord or dropping her newspaper, Dottie (Ginger Beavers) is an actor on the verge of retirement. Beavers captures a youthful glimmer in the veteran actor, ready to swing an axe or prank her former lover. Selsdon (Tim Hayes) wanders through scenes on the hunt for a stiff drink and appears pleasantly amiable when he remembers to appear on cue.
‘Noises Off’ is a slapstick farce meant to relax and enjoy, driven by physical comedy rather than clever dialog, with doors opening and slamming every few seconds, actors tumbling downstairs or thrown through windows, and plates of sardines piling up with greasy abandon. It is lengthy and repetitive, yet charming, and a marvelous way to de-stress, basking in the absurdity with a proficient ensemble.
Presented by 6th Street Playhouse through March 31, 2018
Fri/Sat at 7:30pm, Sun at 2:00pm
Thurs at 2:00pm March 15
Sat at 2:00pm March 17, 24, 31
Photos by Eric Chazankin
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