I’ve been waiting for this opportunity for months: the chance to finally see Noises Off! performed live on stage. Davidson Community Players’ decision to produce the comedy this season has had me excited for quite awhile, even more so after I learned that several local actors whom I respect were cast in the show.
As with many of my reviews, I recommend it, though I do have a few cautions.
Noises Off! tells the story of a small theatre company putting on a play called Nothing On, and begins in the final hours before opening night. It’s broken up into three parts: the frustrating final dress rehearsal (in which we learn about the cast and see a sneak preview of some scenes from the play they’re producing), an actual performance from backstage, and then another performance weeks later from the audience’s perspective again.
If you’re confused reading that, just wait ’til you see the actual production.
The unique perspectives we get of the show comes from a fantastic set design in which the set of Nothing On actually rotates a full 180 degrees, giving us the opportunity to see the action from the audience’s perspective AND from backstage, as mentioned above. By far the best parts of the show are in the middle, when we see the antics happening backstage while an audience is supposedly watching from the other side of the set. Performers backstage must be very quiet so as to not be heard by the audience, which can be difficult when they are dealing with anger, jealousy, alcoholism, and other frustrations in the middle of a production.
The cast was by and large pretty good, though I sometimes had difficulty not comparing the performers to the actors in the film version of Noises Off! (If you haven’t seen the 1992 movie, starring Michael Caine, Carol Burnett, Christopher Reeve, John Ritter, and Nicolette Sheridan just to name a few, go get the DVD immediately.) It’s a complement to the director and cast that most of their roles were distinct from those of beloved film stars from the movie, and only a couple of them left me longing for the film actors at select moments.
One of the theatrical land mines in this show is that some of the actors (in the film, at least) are supposed to be British, while others are supposed to be American actors faking a British accent in the Nothing On scenes. This production wisely tried to limit the “off stage” British accents, though to be frank I wish they’d gone farther – it would’ve seemed more authentic had they made all of the characters American, rather than risk the inevitable slips in accent even in “off stage” moments. (Yes, this would’ve mandated changing a few lines, but I think it would’ve been a safer bet all in all.)
A few select disappointments aside, I thoroughly enjoyed this production of Noises Off! at the Duke Family Performance Hall in Davidson. (Yes, I drove 30 minutes to see this show, and I encourage you to do the same if you live in Charlotte.) It’s a lot of fun, a whirlwind of theatrical mayhem, and is chock full of laugh-out-loud moments for anyone who’s ever been in a play or has seen enough of them to relate.
Playing through August 1st, so you’d better hurry if you want to catch a performance. (Tip: Members of the Metrolina Theatre Association can get $10 tickets by calling the box office – an unbeatable value for a very funny show!)