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'Noises Off' switches on laughs PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sentinel-Tribune Staff   
Friday, 12 April 2013 11:10
(From left) Lloyd Dallas, played by William Toth, Selsdon Mowbray, played by Kenneth Taylor, and Tim Allgood, played by Matthew Johnston, appear on stage in the same costume during the dress rehearsal of "Noises Off" at Owens Center for Fine and Performing Arts. (Photo: Shane Hughes/Sentinel-Tribune)
Michael Frayn took the title for his comedy "Noises Off!" from the script direction meaning a sound emanating from backstage.
In the case of his play that "noise" is the sound of cast and crew of the play "Nothing On" coming apart at the seams. Their lives are even more troubled and twisted, and far more comic, than the characters in the play they are staging.
The result is a farce full of flops and malapropism, not to mention those key elements of theater and life, at least according to the director of the play within a play, "sardines and doors."
Audiences will get plenty of both as "Noises Off!" opens today at 7:30 p.m. at the Owens Community College's Mainstage Theatre in the Center for the Fine and Performing Arts, off Oregon Road in Perrysburg Township. The show continues Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. and next weekend April 19 and 20 at 7:30 p.m. and April 21 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $12 and $8 for Owens faculty, students and alumni. Call (567) 661-2787.
While Jeremy Meier directs "Noises Off!" William Toth as Lloyd Dallas gets the honors of directing "Nothing On," the bedroom farce that is hours away from opening for a tour as the curtain rises.
I attend a lot of dress rehearsals, but I've never had the pleasure of going to one as dysfunctional as this. People don't know what to say or when to come on or what to do when they are on. Most are under the impression it's a technical, not dress rehearsal, and behave as if it's little more than a read through.
Garry Lejeune (John Toth) who plays Roger in "Nothing On" thinks nothing of breaking character to make suggestions to the director. And Frederick Fellowes (James MacFarlane) needs motivation for his character, Philip, to carry a box into the study.
Brooke Ashton (Emily Pheils), who by flouncing around in a teddy provides the play within a play its name, is drifting about in a world of her own.
The aptly named Dotty (Amber Breault-Albain) plays the maid and has a devil of a time juggling a plate of sardines, a telephone and a newspaper (kudos for getting a copy of The Sun).
Then there's Selsdon (Kenneth Taylor), an over-the-hill, heavy-drinking thespian hired to play a walk on, or rather crawl through the window, role as a burglar.
It's left to the stage manager Poppy (Jamila Ramlawi) and the one emotionally stable cast member Belinda Blair (Amber Johnson) with an assist from the bumbling stage hand Tim (Matthew Johnston) to try to keep things moving, and on track even as the director's dalliances are revealed and the cast becomes unhinged.
The Owens cast members lose themselves in the layers of farce. If their accents slip as the slapstick increases, that's minor, and will undoubtedly be unnoticed in the howls of laughter provoked by their antics.
John Toth has an especially wonderful bit in Act 2 when he returns to the production having been away directing Shakespeare. His long lament about his troubles with "Richard III" is spoken with the diction of someone who has been listening to a lot of iambic pentameter.
Over the course of the three-act play we see Act One of "Nothing On" three times. First at the dress rehearsal. Then we see it from backstage as all the vanity, jealousy and vindictiveness of the cast plays out in the foreground with "Nothing On" in the background.
We see the last performance when the exhausted and distracted cast rampages through a chaotic and hilarious reduction that is all sardines - sat upon, slipped on and shoved down ladies' bosoms - and plenty of stuck and slamming doors. Just the kind of performance you'd expect from the dress rehearsal.
What audiences can expect based on Thursday's dress rehearsal at Owens of "Noises Off!" is wall-to-wall hilarity.

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