By Michael Frayn
Directed by William Pullinsi
At The Theatre at the Center, Munster, IN
Wild laugh fest keeps the fun rolling throughout
Called “The Funniest Farce Ever Written” by the New York critics, Michael Frayn’s 1982 British farce, Noises Off is a wildly wacky and mind-boggling mayhem of a comedy. It is a cleverly structured play-within-a-play told in three acts using a set that rotates allowing us to see action straight at us and from backstage. Bill Pullinsi–know as a master of directing farces–has assembled a “dream team” of Chicagoland’s favorite comedic actors lead by Marilyn Bogetich (Dotty Otley), Dale Benson (Selsdon Mawbray) and Will clinger (Lloyd Dallas).
Noises Off follows a troupe of has-been, never-was, and wanna-be British actors as they rehearse their soon-to-be production of “Nothing On.” Their director, Lloyd Dallas (Will Clinger deliciously pretentious) is desperately trying to finish mounting their new bedroom farce that opens the next day as part of their tour of rural Britain.
As the cast stumbles through their ‘dress rehearsal,’ we come to see that their foibles, petty fights, romantic intrigues and drinking problems add adventure to their creation of theatrical art. Our first glimpse of the final run-through establishes the humor, the characteristics of each player and the basic structure of their play-within-a-play.
Act one is funny and it serves as a set-up for all the progressively manic physical comedy to follow. Act two shows what happened backstage. Lee Brasuell’s impressive, multi-doored set work front or back. This is the funiest of the three acts.
By act three, all semblance of “Nothing Off ” has vanished as the mayhem of their personal and professional vendettas dominate their art. This super-funny show grows wilder and funnier as it progresses. The nine brave and energetic players slam doors, do physical and verbal bits with deftly timed precession. Shoelaces are tied together, plates of sardines are dumped on heads, alcohol is consumed and sexual peccadilloes and dalliance are played out both onstage and off. The result is a well-oiled comedic machine of a farce. You’ll laugh yourself silly watching this show!
Dale Benson and Marilyn Bogetich anchor the craziness with help from Will clinger, Jeff Cummings (Garry Lejeune), Laura E. Taylor (Brooke Ashton), Anna Hammonds (Poppy Norton-Taylor), Clay Sanderson (Frederick Fellowes), Laura Leonardo Ownby (Belinda Blair) and Jason R. Wroblewski (Tim Allgood).
So, sit back and let this cleverly structured farce adroitly stimulate you into the zany world of high British farce. You’ll laugh and quickly appreciate the stage craft of the Chicago Dream Team of comics going crazy entertaining you. This show is pure fun. We need more laughs in this times. This show give us all we need. The cast is having so much fun it becomes contagious.
At the Theatre at the Center, 1040 Ridge Road, Munster, IN, call 219-836-3255, www.theatreatthecenter.com, tickets $20 – $40, Wednesdays & Thursdays at 2 pm, Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 2:30 & 8 pm, Sundays at 2:30 pm, running time is 2 hours, 30 minutes with 2 intermissions, through March 21, 2010