The Manatee Players’ Noises Off is bound to make you laugh.
By Kay Kipling
As playwright Michael Frayn slyly has one of the characters in Noises Off say, “I haven’t come to the theater to hear about other people’s problems. I’ve come to be taken out of myself.”
That, of course, is exactly what you will be with Noises Off, the ever-popular farce about actors, stage managers and a director hopelessly trying to bring to the stage yet another farce called Nothing On. A perfect play-within-a-play, Noises Off captures all of the initial theater backstage camaraderie that gradually turns into chaos as personal foibles and clandestine relationships take their toll on the hard-working (but not terribly talented) cast assembled by long-suffering director Lloyd Dallas (James Thaggard).
Noises Off brings together many of the recognizable types of the theater and plays them off against each other skillfully. There’s comedy trouper Dotty (Carolyn Zaput), sexy but limited Brooke (Chelsey Panisch), levelheaded gossip Belinda (Judy Phelan), well-meaning motivation seeker Freddy (Tommy Carpenter), and Dotty’s boyfriend Garry (Gavin Smith), full of increasingly panicked and dim bonhomie. There’s also director Lloyd, trying not to completely lose his temper with his cast and overworked stage managers (Anna Kozak-McClure and William “Shane” Garves)—and of course the requisite old sot (Dan Higgs), whom everyone is trying to keep away from the bottle.
During the three acts of the play, in which we see the same Nothing On scene re-enacted (in the second and best act, from backstage), everything slides further and further out of control and into hilarity. While the complicated stage directions of Act II occasionally get a little fuzzy, overall Noises Off is well cast and well directed by Kelly Wynn Woodland, and even if you’ve seen the show several times before (as I have) you will still find laughter bubbling up inside at the sheer absurdity of it all.
Noises Off continues through Oct. 21 at the Manatee Players Riverfront Theatre; for more info go to manateeplayers.com and call 748-5875 for tickets.