There’s some very funny business going on at the American Airlines Theatre where the Roundabout Theatre Company’s production of NOISES OFF is keeping audiences guffawing full out from the antics of some very first rate actors appearing in a farce called NOTHING ON with some very third rate actors in some very third rate theatres.
It’s a three act 1982 farce within a farce that has been intricately and expertly crafted by Michael Frayn and just as expertly directed by Jeremy Herrin – late of Wolf Hall – slapstick et al.
As the saying goes – “the show must go on” and this troupe just can’t seem to get anything right during the dress rehearsal – frustrating their director Lloyd Dallas (Campbell Scott) as he unsuccessfully attempts to guide them towards a successful tour and balance his love life between assistant stage manager Poppy (Tracee Chimo) and bumbling bombshell Brooke (Megan Hilty) who cavorts around in her undergarments desperately memorizing her lines and blocking much to our amusement.
Dotty (a sublime Andrea Martin) reeks bewilderment as she goes about her business of answering phones and keeping track of the many plates of sardines called for on the two tiered set of Derek McLane with its many doors that will be slammed and opened and cause missed cues and missed entrances.
The house is for rent as its owners Philip and Flavia Brent (Freddy – Jeremy Shamos and Belinda Blair – Kate Jennings Grant respectively) – To help sort out this confusion there is a separate very clever program of NOTHING ON within the program for NOISES OFF.
The Brents are away to avoid paying tax. But they are not. Arriving on the scene just in time to further confuse Mrs. Clackett (Dotty our dear Andrea Martin) Also arriving is Garry (a wonderful David Furr) who is Roger with Vicki (Brooke/Megan) and a missing actor Selsdon who is with his bottle of booze (Daniel Davis) who is the burglar – Rob McClure is his understudy as well as that of Freddy. Is that everybody? Let me double check!
In Act II we see the show from backstage. Some terrific sight gags and miming and almost every possible simulated sexual position possible make merry although the pace slackened a bit until being absolutely and hysterically revived in the Act III as the actor’s private lives collide with the play well into its tour.
Doors slam. Cues are missed. Ad-libs must suffice. Sardines fall. Actors slip. A nose bleeds – again. A contact lens is lost – again. David Furr has a masterful tumble down a flight of stairs and Rob McClure – having to go on suddenly gets the shakes unlike any shakes seen before. It’s as though he has a vibrator up his vertebrae.
High praise is also due to the comedic stunt coordinator Mr. Lorenzo Pisoni.
It is an extremely exuberant and hilarious production. A volcanic eruption of humor – physical, verbal and farcical. What a wonderful thing it is to share so much laughter and joy. Highly recommended. Through March 6th 2016
Photos: Joan Marcus
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