Raleigh, NC-based Theatre in the Park is closing its warmly applauded 2010-11 “Ah, Theatre” Season with a rollicking rendition of British playwright, screenwriter, and novelist Michael Frayn’s brilliant backstage comedy Noises Off,, staged at a gallop by director Ira David Wood IV on a magnificent reversible multilevel set by scenic and lighting designer Stephen J. Larson. Indeed, Larson’s splendid recreation of the front and back of the set for the play-within-the-play — the frantic sex farce Nothing On — is probably his best set yet.
TIP’s zany version of Noises Off also features crackerjack comic characterizations by Tony Pender as temperamental womanizing director Lloyd Dallas, Joanna V. Herath as forgetful cradle-robbing late-middle-aged actress Dotty Otley, Rob Rainbolt as Dotty’s jealous much-younger boyfriend stuttering actor Garry Lejeune, and especially Sarah Bousquet as super-sexy novice actress Brooke Ashton, who stops the show in more ways than one as she repeatedly loses her contact lenses.
Also earning hearty applause are the antics of Lauren Flynn as overly emotional assistant stage manager Poppy Norton-Taylor, George M. Kaiser as overworked stage manager Timothy Allgood, and Randall Stanton as elderly alcoholic actor Selsdon Mowbray. Staci Sabarsky sparkles as cheerful actress Belinda Blair, and Brook North is a pip as violence-averse nosebleed-prone actor Frederick Fellows.
Noises Off is a veritable three-ring circus of comedy performed in only one ring, and director Ira Wood does a commendable job of keeping the audience’s focus right where it should be, at all times.
Costume designer Shawn Stewart-Larson, properties manager Victor Rivera, and sound designer Will Mikes also deserve kudos for their sizable contributions to the merriment; but in the end its is Steve Larson’s set that provides the perfect platform for this wild-and-crazy production.
SECOND OPINION: June 15th Durham, NC Independent Weekly review by Zach Smith (who awarded the show 3.5 of 5 stars): http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/high-energy-and-big-laughs-in-noises-off-at-theatre-in-the-park/Content?oid=2550037; and June 11th Raleigh, NC CVNC (Classical Voice of North Carolina) review by Alan R. Hall: http://cvnc.org/article.cfm?articleId=4917. (Note: To read Triangle Arts & Entertainment’s online version of the June 10th Triangle Theater Review preview by Robert W. McDowell, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2011/06/michael-frayns-zany-backstage-comedy-noises-off-is-performed-at-a-gallop-with-lots-of-slapstick/.)
Theatre in the Park presents NOISES OFF at 3 p.m. June 26 in the Ira David Wood III Pullen Park Theatre, 107 Pullen Rd., Raleigh, North Carolina 27607.
TICKETS: $22 ($16 students, seniors 60+, and active-duty military personnel).
BOX OFFICE: 919/831-6058 or http://www.etix.com/.
The Script: http://books.google.com/ (Google Books).
A Study Guide: http://www.bard.org/education/studyguides/Noises/noises.html (Utah Shakespeare Festival).
The Playwright: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Frayn (Wikipedia), http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=7726 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0292450/ (Internet Movie Database).
Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This review is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.
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To read all of Robert W. McDowell’s Triangle Theater Review previews and reviews online at Triangle Arts & Entertainment, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/robert-w-mcdowell/.