Watching a play from the wings instead of the seats, Michael Frayn was amused by the entertainment happening behind the set. So logically, the next step was to write a show about an eccentric eight-person love triangle and recovering alcoholic that are forced to go onstage and act out being alone in a house where ancient tellies and sardines disappear through slamming doors to the equally chaotic backstage where the apparting objects are now bottles of whiskey and flowers being shuffled among love interests. This story morphed into the sitcom-esque show that premiered in London in 1982, making it to Broadway in 1984 where the show won a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Ensemble.Trying to find seats in Artistry’s Schneider Theater, I noticed that I was the youngest person in the auditorium by like, forty years. Based off of that, I assumed Noises Off was a production aimed at an older crowd. Or, it could just be the Artistry theater company. In an effort to get more young people in their theater, they offer $12 tickets to people 30 and under. Considering the demographic of the audience, I was expecting this play’s humor to go over my head. But lot of the humor was. . . demonstrated (think bodies contorted into oral sex positions trying to fix costumes). As the curtain descended at the end of act one, each character begrudgingly assumed a cheesy pose, creating the equivalent of a promotional picture for a Netflix drama. I could easily see why Noises Off had two successful Broadway revivals - this is a show that knows how to pull off slapstick. Noises Off is a play-within-a-play – each act of Noises Off equals one run of Nothing On, gradually increasing in disaster each time. Act one begins with a caffeine-deficient cast pulling an all-nighter, trudging through their dress rehear– sorry, technical rehearsal – before their show opens in less than twenty hours. This gives some exposition and sets a (hilarious) baseline for the next two acts. During intermission, the set does a one-eighty. Act two is a run of Nothing On from the “backstage” perspective, so the audience can partake in the drama on both sides of the set. By the third and final act, the initial appeal of watching a show crash and burn was starting to fade. Now that I was familiar with two stage environments, I was curious to see what the third act would bring. I was half expecting some unconventional set style, upping the absurdity of it all, but instead the stage had returned to the exact same setup as the first act. Like the set, the rest of the third act was repetitive, give or take a few sardines. Oh, and there goes Brooke, mouthing everyone's lines again. . . and yep, the sardines are still missing . . . The concept of seeing a plot three times under different circumstances is a unique idea (and worth watching all three times), but the quality of first two acts had me expecting some fantastic finish. In order to make the three performances work in its favor, the show needed to intensify exponentially, when instead it opted for a more linear route.That said, if you don't mind a little déjà vu and you're looking for laughs between now and February 18, I would highly recommend a trip to the Bloomington Arts Center to see Noises Off.
This post comes to the Twin Cities Theater Bloggers from Devyn Terry. Devyn Terry is a senior in high school. She does show choir, theater and is in an a capella ground called the Unaccompanied Minors. She hopes to have a theater-filled future as well as continue to learn Spanish and possibly study linguistics in college.