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Theater Review: “Noises Off” At A Noise Within

Elizabeth Johnson |
January 24, 2011 | 12:50 a.m. PST

Staff Reporter

Jill Hill (Brenda), Stephen Rockwell (Freddy), Deborah Strang (Dotty), Mikael Salazar (Garry), Geoff Elliott (Lloyd) in ANW's production of "Noises Off" (Photos courtesy of Craig Schwartz)
Jill Hill (Brenda), Stephen Rockwell (Freddy), Deborah Strang (Dotty), Mikael Salazar (Garry), Geoff Elliott (Lloyd) in ANW's production of "Noises Off" (Photos courtesy of Craig Schwartz)
A Noise Within’s production of “Noises Off” effortlessly captures the madcap antics of the British farce. With rotating sets, flying sardines and endless entrances and exits, the actors accomplish a feat in allowing their comedic timing to take center stage.

The production, directed by ANW co-founders and co-artistic directors Geoff Elliott and Julia Rodriguez-Elliott, is being reprised for 10 days after being performed during ANW’s 2009-2010 season.

A hilarious take on the play within a play archetype, “Noises Off” centers on an ensemble cast of eclectic characters bumbling through the Grand Theatre’s production of the bedroom farce “Nothing On.”

The first act shows the final dress rehearsal before opening night of the production. Nothing seems to go right for the earnest performers of the Grand Theatre, who can barely seem to get through a scene without some serious fumbling and personal dramatics.

In act two, the audience’s perspective shifts to behind-the-scenes of a matinee performance of “Nothing On” one month later. Offstage conflicts, rising from many convoluted romantic entanglements, threaten to completely derail the production.

The final act follows a show at the end of the run, where the actors of the Grand Theatre are forced once again to salvage a disastrous production of their own making.

Although “Noises Off” is meant to be maniacally fast-paced, it risks seeming plodding as the same portion of “Nothing On” is performed for the third time. However, the audience is easily able to engage in the distinctive on- and off-stage personas that the actors so effortlessly create, making each act seem layered and unexpected.

The complexity of “Noises Off” threatens to be as much of a disaster for ANW as “Nothing On”; with so many entrances and exits, timing has to be impeccable to keep the pace of the performance. Fortunately, these nine intrepid actors clearly have no problem with the intricacies of the production.

Featuring fast-paced physical humor and unparalleled theatrical portrayals, ANW’s “Noises Off” is chaotic comedy at its finest.

Reach staff reporter Elizabeth Johnson here.



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