Friday, March 23, 2012

REVIEW: The Players of Sarasota's 'Noises Off' turns chaos into comedy


Three decades after its premiere, English playwright Michael Frayn’s classic backstage farce “Noises Off” remains superbly funny in a new staging by the Players of Sarasota.

Brilliantly conceived and written, it’s a play within a play about the chaos surrounding the production of an awful, double entendre-filled British sex comedy titled “Nothing On.”

Frayn offers audiences three different, equally humorous looks at the fictional play’s first act.
Act one takes place at a dreadful dress rehearsal the night before the opening of the play. The actors miss cues, flub lines and struggle with minding the main prop, a plate of sardines.

The second act brings the audience backstage for a Wednesday matinee performance a month later. Here’s where the love triangles formed between the cast members result in violence manifested through superbly choreographed and executed silent-slapstick.

By act three, “Nothing On” has reached the end of its run and we witness a performance of sheer ineptitude that again makes for comic gold.

For at least many in the audience, “Noises Off’ probably works so well because the happenings on stage hit close to home despite the play being a farce.

In the program, Kelly Woodland, the director, notes that “every person who has ever been involved in theater who sees, reads or performs ‘Noises Off” sees a person or situation he has directly experienced and recognizes.”

It’s that aspect of reality and recognition that makes Frayn’s most famous work such a masterpiece.
But it still takes smart direction and a first-rate cast to make the magic happen.

And Woodland and company don’t disappoint.

Danae DeShazer shines as the ditsy, lingerie-wearing ingenue Brooke Ashton while Jamie Stewart-Butrum creates hoots of pity as her tears-prone nemesis, the young assistant stage manager Poppy Norton-Taylor.

Walter Price plays the awesomely snarky director Lloyd Dallas and the scene-stealing Gianni Damaia portrays sleep-deprived stage manager Tim Allgood.

Carolyn Zaput is delightfully cranky as fading star Dotty Otley, who has foolishly put much of her life savings into producing “Nothing On.”

Michael Morris has fun playing the goofball Garry Lejeune, who stops rehearsal to spout such memorably idiotic lines as:

“Lloyd, let me just say one thing, since we’ve stopped. I’ve worked with a lotta directors, Lloyd. Some of them were geniuses, some of them were bastards. But I’ve never met one who was so totally and absolutely... I don’t know.”

Jason Kimble revels in playing Frederick Fellowes, the nosebleed prone actor who simply must know the motives behind even his most trivial actions.

The least quirky character in the play, dependable and scandal-free Belinda Blair, is played with winning charm by Lilian Moore.

Finally, Dan Higgs generates chuckles nearly every moment he steps on stage as Selsdon Mowbray, a veteran actor whose main objective is staying happily drunk.

So, there you have it.

Nine actors working with a most capable director off an excellent script to deliver laugh-out loud theater.

—Top photo: From left: Lilian Moore, Jason Kimble and Carolyn Zaput in The Players of Sarasota’s production of "Noises Off."

—Second photo: Danae DeShazer. Both photos provided by The Players of Sarasota.

Details: Through-April 1, The Players Theatre, 838 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Tickets: $25/$12 (students). Information: 941-365-2494 or www.theplayers.org.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thanks for share.