Nothing's Quiet About Noises OFF
There's perpetual motion on stage during the hilarious mix of confusion, romance and inner-cast discord
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Evan Tyrone Martin in "An Unforgettable Nat King Cole Christmas."
(Photograph by Michael Brosilow)
Rochelle Therrien and Ryan McBride in a scene from Noises OFF.
IF laughter is your pleasure, then Noises OFF at Windy City Playhouse, running through March 31, is your show. English playwright Michael Frayn’s 1982 rib-tickling creation, now considered a classic farce, has left its hilarious mark on Broadway and other theatrical venues while establishing itself as what some observers describe as “a wildly delightful comedy.”
Noises OFF gives the audience a look at the behind-the scenes fiascos that often exist during the preparation and presentation of a stage show. This peek into reality, however, just happens to focus on an underprepared group of actors
who somehow have to overcome forgotten lines, mistaken props and prolonged infighting––just hours before opening night of a 12-week tour of their bawdy show “Nothing On,” the play within the play.
Presented in three frenetic acts, Noises OFF is in the hands of director Scott Weinstein, and in a somewhat similar fashion exhibited during the successful and much talked-about run of Southern Gothic*, theatergoers get up-close and
personal with the production. During Act I and Act III, the audience watches from assigned theater seats, but during Act II, observers are brought backstage for a close view of what’s not seen behind the curtain––the multiple mishaps and unbridled chaos.
From the play’s beginning, in the first act, the actors go through their final rehearsal, and they clearly aren’t ready, evidenced by the constant bickering and the criticism of everything the director suggests. In the second act, while the audience views from backstage, discombobulation abounds as everything is becoming undone in a setting where romance, philandering and revenge come to the forefront. And in the third act, whatever can go wrong does, and the confusion and disorder reach its height.
Not to be overlooked in this unique presentation is the superb, inspired cast, all of whom deliver various memorable moments, beginning with Amy J. Carle as Dotty Otley, a forgetful but hospitable housekeeper who has a penchant for sardines; Ryan McBride as Garry Lejune, a real estate specialist who’s tangled in a romantic mess; and Rochelle Therrien as flighty Brooke Ashton, the sexy beauty who takes over-acting to a new level and is sleeping with Garry and frustrated director Lloyd Dallas (played by Mike Tepeli). The group is rounded out with the exceptional talents of Erica Bittner, Scott Duff, Alexander Quinones, Amy Rubenstein and Will Casey as the bumbling burglar Selsdon Mowbray, a Benny Hill-like character who has a problem with the bottle.
Noises OFF is a raucous, high-octane-fueled comedy that exhibits nothing less than full speed. It’s silly. It’s funny. It’s wacky. It’s zany. And it’s two hours of a hilariously good time!
*The immersive presentation of Southern Gothic has moved from Windy City Playhouse’s flagship venue to Windy City Playhouse South (2229 S. Michigan Avenue), where it’s scheduled to run through March 3. For more information and tickets to Noises OFF and Southern Gothic, go to www.windycityplayhouse.com.