By Sheila Martindale
The nine cast members in Langham Court Theatre’s new show Noises Off deserve an A for effort!
For almost three exhausting hours they charge in and out of the eight doors on stage, creating muddles and mayhem, to the roars of approval from an enthusiastic opening night audience. When the show finishes on June 22, they will no doubt collapse with total exhaustion.
Jan Streader as the long-suffering housekeeper, and Andrew Weitzel as a young man conducting a clandestine affair are both outstanding comedians, and Jeff Kerrie takes the gold star for being able to jump up and downstairs with his trousers around his ankles. (Yes, it is that kind of play!)
Tess Kotchonoski plays an airheaded bimbo with authenticity, her voice so squeaky as to be almost incomprehensible. A newcomer to Victoria, Tess Weins appears as Poppy, doing a very competent job, and Kristin Pickup is marvelous as the gal who makes the best of a hilariously bad situation. Jon Hunwick and Toshik Bukowiecki are strong minor characters, and Alan Penty does a loud and efficient job as the director of this play-within-a-play.
The entire cast handles the complicated dialogue without missing a beat, at the same time as dashing around the rooms and up and downstairs without any false moves.
Playwright Michael Frayne has done a fabulous job of sending up the theatre with all its problems and difficulties, and though social behaviour has changed somewhat since Noises Off was first produced in 1982, the play in no way feels dated. The plot (if you can call it that!) revolves around a play being rehearsed and performed, with everything going wrong, and we see the action from the point of view of the audience and also as if we were backstage. There are three scenes, all about the same thing, all from different perspectives – very clever. If I had had my editor’s pen handy at the time the play was written, I would have shortened it by about an hour, as by 11 p.m. the audience was feeling as wrung out as the players.
A tip of the hat to Chris Clarke and Sally Crickman for an amazingly functional set that works from both back and the front, and to Jason King for the clever background sound, which is part of what makes Noises Off so funny. Congratulations to all the stage management people for efficient handling of scene changes, and special kudos to Don Keith, for the masterly direction of this whole mess!
If you like farce, you will love this one. Call 250-384-2142 for tickets or learn more at langhamtheatre.ca