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Noises Off

a Farce
CATEGORY :
by Michael Frayn

COMPANY : Georgia Shakespeare [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Conant Performing Arts Center [WEBSITE]
ID# 4082

SHOWING : July 28, 2011 - August 14, 2011

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

Clandestine affairs, out-of-control egos, drunken frivolity... and that's just what is happening backstage! Michael Frayn's hilarious farce takes you behind the curtain with a mediocre touring company trying to put on a terrible play and making a delightfully entertaining mess of it. Sure to be the blockbuster comedy of the summer, Noises Off will have you laughing until it hurts.


CAST & CREW LIST
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REVIEWS

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Of Doors and Sardines
by Dedalus
Monday, August 15, 2011
4.5
It’s not that “Noises Off” may well be an actor-proof show. This is ironic considering how difficult it is to perform, how the logistics of props and sets could stymie an MIT valedictorian, and how the cast needs the stamina of Olympiads to pull it off. But, when all is said and done, how is an audience supposed to know the difference between a production faux pas and a scripted faux pas?

It’s not that farce is by its nature a shallow creature, that any effort to parse the sardine symbolism is doomed from the start (are they spiritual or merely metaphysical?), or that deeply sociological theses cannot be written on the place of slapstick in creating a cultural milieu, or that a discussion of the sexual politics of stiff-upper-lip Brits prancing about in their lingerie will uncover anything of interest, or that allegorical inferences cannot be made on the parallels between the Voice of God and the Voice of Lloyd.

It’s not that I haven’t seen (and worked on) productions of this show many times in the past (and that there are at least two more local productions scheduled before year’s end) and that it never fails to please, never fails to surprise, never fails to strike at the marrow of my funny bone.

It’s not that I haven’t written about this play before, or that I will refrain from plagiarizing myself in my plot summary, to wit: For the un-initiated, Act One gives us the final Dress Rehearsal of a tired old Sex Comedy called “Nothing On” that is about to “tour the provinces.” The cast is living out a soap opera, the props have minds of their own, the director has his mind more on his next gig, and every eccentricity is thrown into the mined arena for a winner-takes-all fight to the death. During the first intermission, the set is turned around, we see a performance well into the tour, with backstage antics more frantic and desperate than anything onstage. Finally, the set turns around again, and we’re given the disaster-riddled result of weeks on the road, when everything that can go wrong goes incredibly disastrous.

It’s not that this is one of the funniest plays about the theatre ever produced, giving us thespic types characters we can’t help but recognize– the diva, the vacant starlet, the overbearing director, the over-exhausted tech guy, the over-innocent stage manager, the over-gossipy mother-hen, the over-insecure actor, the over-inebriated veteran.

It’s not that this production is not without its faults (a slightly languorous axe sequence, a Cockney accent a li’’le too bri’’le to be fully understood, a too well-groomed Selsdon) or without its pleasant surprises (Freddie’s costume, Brooke’s Act II pratfall, the curtain call).

It’s not that this cast isn’t up to the standards the Georgia Shakespeare troupe has set – Kayser’s Lloyd, Cook’s Dotty, Knezevich’s Garry, Kincaid’s Belinda, and Edwards’ Selsdon are all letter-perfect and tempo-hot, and they are nicely complemented by (relative) newcomers Ann Marie Gideon (Brooke), Mark Cabus (Freddie), Scott Warren (Tim), and Caitlin McWethy (Poppy),

It’s not that Scenic Designer Kat Conley, Costume Designer Doug Koertge, Lighting Designer Mike Post, and Sound Designer Clay Benning haven’t put together the perfect technical playground for these farceurs to romp around in, or that Richard Garner hasn’t directed with the right combination of comic flair and conceptual originality.

It’s just that, with my will to move being drained daily by an unmerciful humidity and an unusually cruel Mr. Sun and my will to live challenged by the daily news cycle, I really REALLY appreciated an evening of unrelenting laughter and unapologetic silliness. I was glad to be reminded that it’s all about doors and sardines -- farce, theatre, life, the universe, and everything!

Anyway, to recap my reaction to Georgia Shakespeare’s production of “Noises Off,” I have reviewed many shows that were hits, and many that were bombs, many comedies that never soared, and many dramas that should have been ignored. But, in all my many many years of writing about Atlanta theatre, I have never reviewed a production that was so … so ... I don’t know!

May the farce be with you!

-- Brad Rudy (BKRudy@aol.com)

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Off
by playgoer
Monday, August 8, 2011
3.5
Georgia Shakespeare is taking on community theatre favorite "Noises Off" as part of its summer season. Part of the fun in a community theatre production is seeing how limited resources manage to pull off the two-story, revolving set required for the three-act show. Here, there is no challenge. Kat Conley has created a perfectly functional country manor set that revolves in seconds on the massive Oglethorpe University stage. It's done so easily that the second intermission in the three-act show has been omitted. So strike off "set" as one of the special pleasures of this "Noises Off."

The Georgia Shakespeare ensemble is used to taking on the complexities of Shakespeare, and they give a bit of an impression that Michael Frayn's "Noises Off" is beneath them. That's particularly the case with Chris Kayser, who seems to take special relish in shouting his four-letter-word lines while stumbling through several of his more innocuous ones. Of the long-term members of Georgia Shakespeare, only Tess Malis Kincaid, as Belinda Blair, thoroughly throws herself into her role. She makes a "star" entrance, lounging in a doorway with her picture hat in the way a self-confident minor celebrity would, and she spits out all her lines with gossipy delight.

Ann Marie Gideon, as Brooke Ashton, also comes off exceedingly well in Richard Garner's direction. Brooke is a bit of an air-head, continuing on in her sequence of lines no matter what has gone wrong or what cue she has been fed. Here, though, she spends a lot of time in act one practicing going up and down stairs in her form-fitting dress. It's just the sort of thing an actress would do at a tech rehearsal on an unfamiliar set and in an unfamiliar, knee-constricting costume. That lets her come across as internally focused rather than totally dim, and it's a nice approach. The costumes of Doug Koertge are terrific throughout, but Brooke's are the best of the best.

Carolyn Cook is fine as ostensible star Dotty Otley, but she is inately too elegant and collected for the frumpy costume and wig she has been given. It might have worked better if she had done Mrs. Clackett (her role in "Nothing On," the show ostensibly being rehearsed) as a slatternly, lower-class "character" and Dotty Otley (the actress playing her) as a more put-together, higher-class woman. There's really not a lot of contrast between stage personality and actor's personality in this production except in the case of Mark Cabus, a milquetoast as actor Frederick Fellowes and a more confident man in his role of Philip Brent.

The other roles are competently played, although Caitlin McWethy's big announcement at the end of act two as Poppy Norton-Taylor was almost lost in the ongoing activity. Scott Warren always seems to have a slightly sleep-deprived look, which works particularly well in the role of stagehand Timothy Allgood. Joe Knezevich has the handsome leading-man looks for Garry Lejeune, and does particularly well with the physical comedy the role demands. As for Allan Edwards as Selsdon Mowbray, he did nothing to help me get over the memory of his boring role in "Antony and Cleopatra."

Georgia Shakespeare's production of "Noises Off" is a fine introduction to this hilarious play. The fun is increased by the prank program for "Nothing On," with a delightfully inane essay on "A Glimpse of the Noumenal." The fake biographies don't always seem to mesh with the actors we see on stage, though, particularly in the case of Poppy Norton-Taylor. All the elements are there in "Noises Off," but there are a lot of little things "off" amidst all the noise and mayhem onstage.
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Impeccably performed
by bobert
Saturday, August 6, 2011
5.0
My family and I have been a fan of GA Shakespeare for a few years now. My oldest son loves the Shakespeare performances in particular. I personally tend to like the other shows best, namely "Shrew the Musical" and now "Noises Off" both of which, coincidentally enough, Joe and Ann Marie were leads in. My only regret is though there was an intermission between Act One and Act One there wasn't an intermission between Act One and Act One (no, there's no typo here, see the show read the program, very clever).

Everyone performed well in a very difficult production to perform, but standouts in my mind were:
* Joe Knezivich
* Carolyn Cook
* Ann Marie Gideon

And I can't say enough about Joe Knezivich's perfomance . . . "you know" (yes, it's in the show and you'll get it when you watch the show). His delivery was spot on, never once broke accent that I can tell and with all the running up and down the stairs he must have a decent lung capacity. In any case, not sure what else to say other than if the show in general wasn't so darn good, would still be worth watching just to see him perform.

I was very impressed with Carolyn's sardine bit with all the complicated blocking. She didt't miss a beat . . . astounding.

Ann Marie was superb playing a ditzy bombshell of an actor insistent on nailing delivery of her character's character's lines and sticking with blocking come hell or high water and regardless of context: "bag! bag! bag! . . . no bag!" Again, see the show, you'll love it.

One point of note, regardless of role (lead or minor), Chris Kayser nearly always steals the show. Sorry Chris, but not this time. Nothing wrong with your performance and I still love ya, but the three aforementioned have got ya beat this time.

Lastly, kudos to Richard Garner for insisting on directing excellence in one of the best plays I've ever seen in my life.

Hats off to all at GA Shakespeare.

To all that read this review, you simply have to see this show. If there's no other show you see all year, this is the one.
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