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Noises Off
a British Farce
by By Micheal Frayn

COMPANY : Centerstage North Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : The Art Place - Mountain View
ID# 3767

SHOWING : October 14, 2011 - October 22, 2011



A play within a play. An ambitious amorous direct and his troupe of mediocre actors. The cast and crew are putting together a farce comedy called Nothing On which doors slam and clothes are tossed away and embarrassing high jinks ensue. Act One is on stage during a rehearsal, Act Two is backstage during a performance and Act Three is onstage during a delightfully ruined performance. When do you bring on the Sardines?

Freddie/Phillip Brian Adams
Belinda/Flavia Eileen M Fulford
Selsdon/Burglar Jerry Jobe
Lloyd Reggie Oldham
Garry/Roger Mark Olsen
Brooke/Vicki Elyse Powell
Dotty/Mrs. Clackett Emily Tyrybon
Tim Charles Umeano
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Superior Farce
by playgoer
Monday, October 24, 2011
"Noises Off" has been done a lot lately by local companies, both professional and amateur. Good thing it's such an entertaining farce that doesn't easily grow old!

CenterStage North's production takes place on a gorgeous set designed by Chris Cerny and Lisa Sherouse Riley. It's unusual in that it has a fireplace and two easy chairs at stage left. They aren't called for in the script, and they are not heavily used in the action. But they are the audience's first hint that this production will not be just a tired re-hashing of the show's standard blocking.

Director Lisa Sherouse Riley has added new bits to the action while keeping all the scripted bits in place. That makes for a richer experience and lets the comedy roll along. Not all the bits come across as laugh-out-loud funny (such as Poppy and Tim conversing at the top of act two as they descend stairs at opposite sides of the set), but they show a sure director's hand at play.

There are a couple of carry-overs from Rosewater Theatre's production of "Noises Off," which also was directed by Lisa Sherouse Riley. Eileen Fulford, as Belinda/Flavia, and Reggie Oldham, as Lloyd, are just as excellent here as they were there. Other standouts include Elyse Powell, as a Brooke/Vicki whose contact lens problems are nicely foreshadowed, and Mark Olsen, as a Gary/Roger who moves convincingely into frantic mode at numerous points. Emily Tyrybon is perhaps too young to play Dotty/Mrs. Clackett, but she infuses the role with just the right notes. Her performance in act three, after Dotty has given up trying to salvage the production, is the finest I've seen. Accents are generally good, although Charles Umeano, as Tim, sounds American except for isolated words.

Props are given more of a workout in this production than they often are. Flavia's dialogue with a mop is a hoot. The multiple bouquets are more consistent in quality than they usually are (which Reggie Oldham's Lloyd acknowledges with an appreciative nod when viewing a replacement bouquet), yet the cactus that eventually shows up is laughably miniscule. Sardines, of course, are much in evidence, and they have a realistic/rubbery look. All the props work well. Props to the props designer, whoever that might have been!

The Art Place auditorium is just high enough to accommodate a two-story set, and it has enough width to allow the set to swing around for act two, when broken into five segments. The set changes are entertaining, but the set design itself is more impressive. The half-timbered walls give the feel of an English country house, and the numerous doors have a two-tone paint job that adds a certain elegance. This is a fun production to see, and all the activity going on onstage gives the audience something to watch at every moment. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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