“Noises Off,” a play by Michael Frayn, tells the story of British actors staging a play called “Nothing On.” In the second act, Melody Rahbari, Jessica Swapp and Adam Evans put on their best acting faces while going through a final dress rehearsal. “Noises Off” will run through Nov. 23 in the Dailey Theatre.
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Doors slam, actors tumble around the stage and hilarity ensues when a British theater company attempts to put on a show despite an eccentric bunch of characters.
The University of La Verne Department of Theatre Arts has pulled off a successful staging of the racy comedy “Noises Off.”
The Dailey Theatre production achieves its effectiveness with a capable cast and an impressive set.
Written by Michael Frayn in 1982, the play takes place in a theater in England, where a group of actors (and one overbearing director) are working to put on a performance in a short amount of time.
The show within a show is an entertaining premise, because the actors are all having affairs with each other and are generally trying to take the others down during fits of jealousy.
Frayn originally thought of the plot for the show while backstage at one of his plays – he realized that what went on behind the scenes was often more interesting than what was playing before the audience.
The term “noises off” is a direction in theater that specifies sounds that are meant to originate offstage.
This element is used appropriately in this production, and is accomplished because the theater is so small.
Space is utilized well, and the audience becomes involved in the production from the very beginning of the show.
The actors are really what contribute to the show’s success. While the ensemble is strong overall, there are a few standout students who keep the production running smoothly.
Kris Bicknell, a senior theater major, has great comedic timing in the role of Frederick Fellowes.
His dorky swoons are humorous, and Bicknell’s departure from dramas (like “Hedda Gabler”) is especially impressive.
Another scene-stealer is Joshua Prisk, a junior theater major, who plays the old drunk, Seldson Mowbray.
He does not have as many lines as the other actors, but he elicited many laughs from the audience while delivering his hilarious monologues.
Adam Evans is also a notable member of the cast. The senior theater major is perfectly over-the-top as the fanatical director, Lloyd Dallas.
These hardworking actors deserve more seats filled in the audience – at a recent performance there were fewer than 30 people in the theater.
While the women performed considerably well in their respective roles, they did not receive as many laughs as the men in this production.
The British accents, though hard to maintain, often disappeared in scenes with yelling or loud exclamations.
Fortunately, due to the fast moving pace of the show, the audience could hardly notice the switch back and forth.
The costumes were also a tad disappointing. The era of clothing did not match among the characters.
The characters Dotty Otley and Garry Lejeune seemed to be more suited to a period piece, while the Belinda Blair role was outfitted in jeans and tennis shoes.
The lack of consistency in the costumes leads to a sense of confusion to the production. Having the costumes be more cohesive would have helped the show’s professionalism.
What helped to restore the significant accomplishments of the play was the remarkable set on display.
The theater department recently acquired a new set, which can pivot and rotate 180 degrees.
The entire structure is lifted off the ground using six air casters and compressed air.
During intermission, the actors filled in as the crew and moved the set to reveal an entirely different setting for the second half of the show.
The show opened Nov. 13 and will continue Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. with a matinee showing on Sunday at 2 p.m.
For more information visit www.ulv.edu/theatre or call 909-593-3511 ext. 4386.
Erin Konrad can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.