It’s opening night at the theatre—or, rather, it’s the night before the big opening in the first act of Everyman Theatre’s production of “Noises Off,” a three act farcical play chronicling a touring theatre group’s struggles from their final dress rehearsal to their closing night. With a reported 152-comedic bits, “Noises Off” is sure to have you constantly laughing as Everyman’s Resident Company of actors switch between the characters they play in “Nothing On,” the play-within-the-play, and their “real” roles as a theatrical group performing this play.
One of the most amazing parts of the play—second only to the stupendous acting and choreography—was the movable set, designed by Daniel Ettinger. It is an absolutely gorgeous two-story house straight out of the 1970s, and I found myself getting caught up in the incredible details incorporated into the set during the show’s two intermissions.
The first act, if you’re unfamiliar with the play, could seem a bit slow as the play begins on the night of the group’s final dress rehearsal, but once the audience is inevitably caught up on plot, a wonderfully good time ensues. The rehearsal stops and starts over and over as the actors forget their lines, their props, and where they are supposed to be, leading us straight into opening night.
Deborah Hazlett opens the play as Dotty Otley, beginning with a soon-to-be running gag involving sardines—pay attention, they’ll become a plot device by the third act. Lloyd Dallas, the director of “Nothing On” who is played by Carl Schurr, frequently interrupts Otley to remind her of her blocking. Following Otley into the house are Garry Lejeune (Danny Gavigan) and Brooke Ashton (Emily Kester), a pair of lovers looking to spend the evening at the house, both of who enter and exit the stage just as Frederick Fellowes (Bruce Randolph Nelson) and Belinda Blair (Beth Hylton), another pair of lovers with the same motive, move on and off.
Rounding out the troupe are Selsdon Mowbray, played by Wil Love, an alcoholic who never manages to quite figure out what he’s doing on stage, Poppy Norton-Taylor (Megan Anderson), the flustered stage manager, and Tim Allgood (Eric Berryman), the over-worked (and probably underpaid) assistant stage manager.
The second act (opening night) is a complete and utter bedlam backstage, revealing the shenanigans going on behind the scenes as the theatre troupe stumbles and navigates inter-cast relations while performing the show. This act is punctuated by incredibly intricate choreography inciting the question, “Just how did they do that?”
With the third act, the cast of “Nothing On” is shuffling about on its last broken leg on the final night of their tour, resulting in the—beautifully done—partial destruction of the set as well as the sardines acting as banana peels would in slapstick comedy. Everyman’s Resident Company is truly amazing at every stage of this play. Their chemistry as a group is undeniable, and each punchline is hit with such a precise execution, you’d have to wonder if they’re even acting at all.
“Noises Off” is running through June 18 at the Everyman Theatre. Everyman features a $10 student rush for B location seating 30 minutes before every scheduled performance and is offered to those with a valid student ID. Additionally, all Sunday evening performances are $10 for students in B location seating with a valid ID. Full price tickets can be purchased for $43-49.