“Noises Off” completes its successful three week run this weekend at the Cailloux Theater. Performances are Thursday 14th through Saturday the 16th all performance begin at 7:30PM. Thursday’s performance features reduced ticket prices, with some seats as low as $5.
The Michael Frayn backstage comedy had been described as a “play within a play within a play within a catastrophe, where the actors suffer and the audience applauds.” “Noises Off,” is actually the story of a suffering production of the fictitious British bedroom farce “Nothing On,” which Frayn was inspired to write after watching a play from backstage. The audience sees the tense final rehearsal of “Nothing On.” Then the massive two-story set turns to reveal the backstage and the audience gets to see a performance of the same show from an actor’s point-of-view. Only this show has so many problems that it’s hard to believe the chaos was previously written, rehearsed, and choreographed. Finally, they see the show falling apart under the weight of the performers combined personal, professional, and romantic woes.
Ironically, a show about a sloppy theatre troupe presenting a play that is falling apart must be precisely crafted and carefully executed by a team of extremely capable theatre professionals. The backstage antics and problems must be timed right and rehearsed if they are to appear unplanned and funny to the audience. However, community theatre patrons know that amateur local performances rarely go on without foibles of their own.
Late in the rehearsals of “Noises Off,” it was clear that tackling the complex script and the huge multi-leveled set was one of the toughest challenges that the seasoned ensemble of community players had ever tackled. When actress Maggie Meek (who plays Dotty Otley, who herself plays Mrs. Clackett) collapses on the couch and laments “…we’ve only had two weeks of rehearsal,” Meek probably didn’t need to go far for her emotional motivation.
Likewise, as the final rehearsals moved forward, guests in the theatre might have been a loss for what was “Noises Off,” and what was “Nothing On.” As director Jim Boman paced around watching the show he had to avoid actor Rob Ward (who plays director Lloyd Dallas) who was pretending to pace around and worry about the show. Darcey Hill and Dowell Mudry play crewmembers who shuffle around Carole Weatherred and her team of actual crewmembers. Even real problems like missing props, stuck doors, and forgotten dialogue were hard to distinguish from gags in the script.
Even in performances, small problems in the show are impossible to notice among the scripted craziness. Last weekend, a door fell off its hinges and lodged in its jamb forcing Ward and Brandi Neely (who plays Brooke Aston who plays Vicki) to wiggle through a small gap, which caused uproarious laugher from the Cailloux audience. Likewise, when the sound of a phone ringing failed, Meek knocked the phone’s receiver against a table until it rang. The audience loved it, while theatre staff members cringed.
Described as the “funniest thing that Playhouse 2000 has ever done,” “Noises Off” closes this Saturday and its giant set will come down to make room for the equally massive Cailloux orchestra shell for this month’s Youth Orchestra, and Symphony of the Hills concerts
Information for all shows at the Cailloux Theatre is available at www.caillouxtheater.com or at the box office (830) 896-9393 ext 223. Tickets are also available online at the website 24 hours a day/7 days a week.