A farce is defined as a comic dramatic work using buffoonery and horseplay and typically including crude characterization and ludicrously improbable situations – Noises Off at The Arts Club Theatre Company Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage certainly meets that definition.
Michael Frayn’s Noises Off, is often referred to as one of the funniest plays ever written. Finding that the action behind the scenes can be just as hilarious as what’s on stage, Frayn has written a hysterical three acts outlining the outlandish goings on behind the scenes in a touring theatre company’s production of “Nothing On”. From dress rehearsal, to a a mid-run matinée, and finally a performance near the end-of-run, the production goes from bad to worse to nonsensical.
Director Scott Bellis has created a brilliant version of the backstage comedy, finding the perfect antidote to the dark days of winter. If laughter is the best medicine, the audience surely received the maximum dose with this Arts Club production. Bellis and the company have managed to make the chaos and comedy of the play within the play feel totally spontaneous. With a lot of laughter and little bit of schadenfreude the audience was doubled over as they waited for what disaster might strike next.
The company lead by “Nothing On” director Lloyd Dallas, played by Andrew McNee with his usual flair for physical comedy. The players and stage hands of the play within the play each match and play up their stereotype and their character’s idiosyncrasies as they slam doors, and dodge sardines onstage. Veteran actress and an production investor Dotty is played with by Colleen Winston with a delivery that would fit in a Carry-On comedy, Tess Degenstein’s Brooke is the perfect ditzy blonde bombshell, Emma Slipp is the (barely) grounded but gossip-loving Belinda. Handsome, leading man Garry, challenges Charlie Gallant with stuntman-like pratfalls, Jovanni Sy as dimwitted nosebleed-prone Freddie, and nearly deaf, and alcoholic senior actor Andy Maton as Seldon round out the male cast. Backstage the play is barely held together by Poppy (Ming Hudson) and Tim (Nora McLellan).
If you’re a fan of broad British comedies, then Noises Off should be on your list. The company’s tightly choreographed slapstick antics, has to much happening and so much laughter it might take a couple of viewings to catch everything going on in Noises Off.
The Arts Club Theatre Company’s Noises Off runs until February 23, 2020 at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage, 2750 Granville Street. Visit artsclub.com for showtimes and tickets.