Noises Off was written by English playwright Michael Frayn in the early '80s, and it literally shows us what's happening backstage during the production of a play-within-a-play called Nothing On. The first act is the final dress rehearsal for the play, in which the director continues to give notes to the six actors, as they figure out what to do with their props. Act two is a month into their tour, and shows us the play from backstage, with the set turned 180 degrees around. Things are not going so well for our troupe of actors, with affairs, drinking problems, and all kinds of silly misunderstanding wreaking havoc on the performances. Finally, the final act turns this around again to the stage again, even further into the run, when everything has gone off the rails and they barely get through the show. It's a wildly entertaining ride.
|Angela Timberman in Act One on stage (photo by Devon Cox)|
|Act Two moves backstage (photo by Devon Cox)|
|back onstage for the ridiculous final act (photo by Devon Cox)|
A show like this relies on a good set, and Rick Polenek delivers with a two-story English country home with so many doors (more doors = more funny) that is just as interesting to look at from the back. And kudos to the real stagehands who help make the magic work.
My favorite line in the play goes something like this:
I haven't come to the theater to hear about other people's problems. I've come to be taken out of myself, and, preferably, not put back again.Which of course isn't totally true, theater is a great way to explore and expose the problems of society. But it also kind of is true. This is definitely the kind of play that takes you out of yourself, while laughing at imaginary people's imaginary problems.
The silly and fun farce-within-a-farce Noises Off continues at Artistry in Bloomington through February 18.