Little Theatre of Alexandria Noises OffBy Rachael Murray • Nov 11th, 2011 • Category: Reviews
Little Theatre of Alexandria
Little Theatre of Alexandria, Alexandria, VA
Through November 26th
2:15 with one intermission and one pause
Reviewed November 9th, 2011
Shakespeare hit the nail on the head when he wrote that “All the world’s a stage/ And all the men and women merely players” business. Noises Off demonstrates this truth several times over.
Noises Off is a three-act farce by Michael Frayn. From the very first moment of Little Theatre of Alexandria’s hysterical production, the audience is taken on a kooky and delightful romp. The show opens with the good-natured housekeeper of a country home curling up with a nice plate of sardines to watch television. Just as she sits down, the phone rings. A few minutes into this scene, we begin to realize we are watching a dress rehearsal of Nothing On. As the play progresses, the audience gets a glimpse of what really happens behind the scenes in the lives of actors.
LTA’s production was, overall, a wild ride with few bumps in the road. The first act had a few moments of awkward pacing, and a few of the jokes didn’t quite “land.” Act two more than made up for any shortcomings in the first act, which snowballs into the third. The third, while a fantastic synthesis of the first two acts, did not quite have the feeling of climactic power and resolution that was expected–though it was a raucous good time. These few minor flaws aside, LTA’s version of Noises Off is a well-executed farcical feat. The direction proved particularly poignant in reigning in what had the comedic potential to be complete chaos. Director C. Evans Kirk did a nice job shaping this chaos, choosing carefully where to let it overrun and overwhelm the stage, yet knowing when to use restraint. Blocking created a nice flow of moving pictures throughout, and the actors used it and motivated it with ease.
The talented cast should be commended on a job well done, particularly for having so much on their acting plates. Kudos to Adam Downs (Garry Lejeune) and Gayle Nichols-Grimes (Dotty Otley) in particular, for creating truly memorable personas. The English dialects were nicely handled by most; there were very few slip-ups. The cast’s greatest strength, however, lay in their ease at physical comedy, which accounted for a large portion of the show. All of the actors are proficient in finding the funny without forcing it out, even in the midst of multiple slamming doors.
The set design (C. Evans Kirk, Den Rimmers) perfectly suited the feel of the show and was very well-used with blocking. Costumes (Annie Vroom) helped tremendously in identifying each character’s type and worked well overall–save for a rather too-distracting lingerie get-up on Kat Sanchez (Brooke Ashton). Chris Hardy’s lighting design supported the action without overstating itself.
The pervading theme here is that life, in fact, is a farce. This play holds the mirror up to nature on this point. What is great about this production is how well the cast and director were able to capture reality so well in such a farcical (and in this case, double-farcical) structure. The funniest moments of the show were when the audience recognized how familiar all the ridiculousness was; we laughed because we saw ourselves as a human race up there on the boards.
My concept for Noises Off is simple: Present a play about a company of actors performing in a farce and what happens when their own lives become more farcical than the characters they are playing. However, there is nothing simple about Noises Off. For those who may not be familiar with the basic structure of a farce, never fear: Michael Frayn gives us “Farce 101” by allowing us in on Act One to see the play within the play, Nothing On. We have doors slamming, sexual high jinks, mistaken identities, and dropping trousers. It is with our overactive imaginations as audience members that we assume what is going on behind all these doors. And then we come to Act Two, and Frayn flips everything around (literally), and now we see what goes on behind those doors, and in our case backstage.
Tonight, forget all about your troubles. Don’t think about the economy…falling satellites…world fighting…the future of Charlie Sheen’s acting career. Turn off your minds and sit back to enjoy what many call one of the funniest plays ever written. We dedicate this show to everyone who has ever worked in theater. My last note to the actors…have fun! My last note to you, the audience…have even more fun!
C. Evans Kirk
Photos by Shane Canfield
- Dotty Otley: Gayle Nichols-Grimes
- Lloyd Dallas: Bruce Alan Rauscher
- Garry Lejeune: Adam Downs
- Brooke Ashton: Kat Sanchez
- Poppy Norton-Taylor: Elizabeth Heir
- Frederick Fellowes: Lars Klores
- Belinda Blair: Rachael Hubbard
- Timothy Allgood: John Crowley
- Selsdon Mowbray: Ron Bianchi
- Co-Producers: Jamie Blake, Kevin O’Dowd
- Assisted by: Peter Alden Hyde
- Director: C. Evans Kirk
- Playwright: Michael J. Frayn
- Co-Stage Managers: Leighann Behrens, Margaret Evans-Joyce
- Assistant Stage Manager: Adrian Steel
- Dialect Coach: Claire Carroll
- Co-Set Designers: C. Evans Kirk, Dan Remmers
- Lighting Design: Chris Hardy
- Master Electrician: Nancy Owens
- Assisted by: Eileen Doherty, Jim Hartz, Michelle Klecha, Pam Leonowich, Liz Owens, Donna Reynolds
- Costume Design: Annie Vroom
- Assisted by: Ellen Ebeling, Bobbie Herbst
- Sound Design: Alan Wray
- Assisted by: Sean Doyle
- Set Construction: Dan Remmers
- Assisted by: David Bissette, Lauren Fadal, Chris Feldmann, Jeff Gathers, Jim Hutzler, Peter Alden Hyde, Sandy Martinez, Patrick McArdle, Jeff Nesmeyer, Roger Pratt
- Set Painting: Kevin O’Dowd
- Assisted by: Bobbie Herbst, Sandy Martinez, Leslie Reed
- Set Decoration: C. Evans Kirk
- Property Designers: Benjamin and Heather Norcross
- Assisted by: jeff Gathers, Sue and Gary Gladstone, Patricia Greksouk, Carlyn Lightfoot, Susie and Sam Poole, Jayn Rife, Carolyn Winters
- Wardrobe: Margaret Snow
- Assisted by: Kath Dillaber, Barbara Helsing, Megan Murphy, Nicole, Zuchetto
- Rigging: Russell Wyland
- Photographer: Shane Canfield
- Auditions coordinator: Maureen Rohn and Maria Ciarrocchi
- Assisted by: Barbara Helsing, Shelagh Roberts, Sherry Singer
- Auditions Photographer: peter Alden Hyde
- Double Tech Dinner: Liz Blake
- Opening Night Party: Russell Wyland
- Assisted by: Emma Baskir, Genie Baskir, John Johnson, Robert Kraus, Eddie Parker, sherry Singer
Disclaimer: Little Theatre of Alexandria provided four complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/7352.
Rachael Murray is an actor, director, and teaching artist. She is a Virginia Tech alumnus with a Bachelor's of Arts in English and Theatre Arts. A relative newcomer to the DC Metro area, Rachael has participated as both an actor and director in a variety of projects at Virginia Tech and has worked as a teaching artist with Capital Repertory Theatre in Albany, New York.