By Diane Johnson
Noises Off is a hilarious backstage comedy now playing at the Waterfront Playhouse.
Danny Weathers directs a talented cast whose slapstick will leave you rolling on the floor laughing. The scenes required split second timing and the hand-offs were carried off beautifully. Michael Frayn, a British playwright, got the idea for the play while watching a performance of The Two of Us from backstage. He said, “It was funnier from behind than in front, and I thought that one day I must write a farce from behind.” The title refers to the sounds coming from offstage the audience is not intended to hear.
Joan O’Dowd played the scatterbrained housekeeper Mrs. Clackett, who was more than a little bit forgetful in remembering her lines let alone the technical bits. Her comic energy was a force to be reckoned with on stage. Matt Hollis Hulsey portrayed the horny director Lloyd whose patience with the cast was already wearing thin in the first Act. Brandon Beach is the not too bright rental agent Garry, just looking to get laid by the sexy Brook played by Erin McKenna. Erin’s enthusiasm shone like a bright star among a cluster of dim bulbs. She never forgot her lines despite the miscues and always losing her contact lenses.
Carolyn Cooper was Poppy, the sweet if overworked stage manager. Her support of the entire cast was the glue that held the scenes together. David Black was cast in the role of Freddie, master of the house who faints at the very sight of blood. Freddie can’t seem to keep his pants. His shtick with the glue was hysterical. It was fun to see Susannah Wells change from the proper lady Belinda to the dingy redhead who went with the flow of ad-libbing in the third Act. J.B. McLendon was perfectly cast as the handyman and assistant stage manager. His well-meaning efforts to support the show resulted in lots of laughs. Tony Konrath is brilliant as Selsdon, the robe clad burglar whose lack of timing and hard of hearing made forgetting his lines dim in comparison.
Noises Off is actually a play-within-a-play. In the first Act the cast is rehearsing a show called Nothing On. In Act two, they are putting on the show while we are treated to what is happening backstage. With a title of Nothing On, it seems fitting that some of the cast members lose their pants and one is wearing sexy underwear. The dotty housekeeper kept “losing” her plate of sardines, and glue is getting stuck to everything. Reminiscent of Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, people come and go constantly from the many doors on stage. Michael Boyer did a marvelous job creating the set, Carmen Rodriguez delivered excellent costumes and Trish Manly’s hard work was evident as Stage Manager.
Noises Off is now playing at the Waterfront Playhouse until Jan. 10. Join the Waterfront in celebrating their 75th anniversary. For tickets call the box office at 305-294-5015 or go on line at www.waterfrontplayhouse.org
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