Review: NOISES OFF at The Topher at Zach Theatre is BRILLIANT!

Now playing through July 9th, 2023

By: Jun. 21, 2023
Review: NOISES OFF at The Topher at Zach Theatre is BRILLIANT!

Noises Off, a hilarious and fast-paced comedy by Michael Frayn, takes the stage at The Topher and leaves the audience in stitches. The play's genius lies not only in its clever writing but also in the precision of its direction and the flawless execution by a talented ensemble cast. From the opening moments to the final curtain call, this theatrical gem delivers non-stop laughter and comedic brilliance. 

"That's what it's all about, doors and sardines. Getting on, getting off. Getting the sardines on, getting the sardines off. That's farce. That's—that's the theater. That’s life” - Noises Off

A play-within-a-play, Noises Off captures a touring theater company’s production of “Nothing On” in three stages (three acts with two intermissions): an all-night dress rehearsal, a matinee performance, and a performance towards the end of a debilitating tour. 

Review: NOISES OFF at The Topher at Zach Theatre is BRILLIANT!
Cast of Noises Off
PC: Suzanne Cordeiro for Zach Theatre

The first act of Noises Off presents a director's worst nightmare during the dress rehearsal. The stage becomes a chaotic playground as actors struggle with missed lines, misplaced props, and last-minute doubts about the script, creating a whirlwind of comedic mishaps. Amidst the onstage chaos, the audience is also treated to a glimpse of the backstage gossip that pervades the production. Secret romances among cast members, revelations of alcoholic tendencies, and other juicy tidbits add an additional layer of intrigue and hilarity to the unfolding story. This initial act sets the stage for the wild ride of laughter and surprises that awaits the rest of the play.

In the second act, set a month later, the audience is treated to a behind-the-scenes look at the chaos developing backstage, made possible by Zach's rotating stage. Back there, cast members are in utter disarray, tangled in a web of romantic rivalries, inappropriate professional behavior, and complex human emotions. As the silent scenes unfold, sabotage, backstabbing, and a plethora of lying and cheating are portrayed through intricate hand gestures and physical movements. Not a single word is uttered, yet the audience understands the dynamics that are taking place. This part of the play captures the essence of classic Chaplin movies, where physical comedy spoke volumes, while also embodying the spirit of modern comedic gems like The Play That Goes Wrong.

Throughout the uproarious third act, the cast members showcase unwavering resilience and an unyielding commitment to crafting an unforgettable spectacle. In a whirlwind of chaos, they masterfully navigate forgotten lines, conjure outrageous scenarios on the spot, and rely on their impeccable comedic timing to forge ahead. This play-within-a-play blossoms into a farcical masterpiece, where missing props and comically absurd predicaments fuel the laughter. Undeterred by the tumult, their unwavering dedication to the age-old theatrical adage of "the show must go on" propels them to extraordinary lengths, taking the audience on a side-splitting journey of hilarity. 

Zach’s production of Noises Off is cast, staged, and directed to perfection and it is one of the best comedies I have seen at Zach Theatre in a long time. 

Marc Pouhe's booming voice as Lloyd Dallas, the company director, seemed poised to restore order amidst the disarray on stage. Yet, true to the comedic genre, chaos reigns supreme. Mr. Pouhe's comedic acting prowess shines as he navigates a role that reveals the futility of a director's attempts to salvage a production. 

Tonie Knight as Dotty/Mrs. Clackett stands out with impeccable humor. She effortlessly turns every scene into a perfect mess of hysterical mishaps on-stage and backstage. From changing lines to misplacing props, Dotty disrupts the flow of the play with a charming disregard for order. Her romantic entanglements with not one, but two leading co-stars create a string of funny complications. Mrs. Knight’s performance infuses Dotty with an endearing quality, making her unnerving and frustrating antics all the more amusing.

Dotty's inability to keep up with the script and her plate of sardines is just one of the many bumps on stage. Maggie Anderson's portrayal of Brooke Ashton/Vicki adds another layer of comedic bliss. With a penchant for losing her contact lenses, Mrs. Anderson brilliantly portrays Brooke's untimely moments of blindness, leading the entire cast to halt rehearsals and search the stage, only to find the lens right in her own eye. The contrast between Brooke's bubbly personality on stage and her klutzy, absentminded persona backstage is brought to life wonderfully through Mrs. Anderson’s over-the-top physicality.

Liz Beckham shines as Belinda Blair and exudes sensibility and cheerfulness amidst the chaos. However, her well-intentioned attempts to maintain order inadvertently stir up more trouble with backstage gossip and meddling. Tobie Minor flawlessly embodies the insecurities and self-doubts of Frederick Fellows, infusing the character of Phillip Brent with an extra dramatic flair that hilariously revolves around evading taxes. Andre Martin stands out with impeccable physicality and comedic accuracy in his portrayal of Garry Lejeune/Roger. Garry's constant struggle to complete a single sentence adds another layer of humor to the already entertaining performance. Michael Stuart delivers a standout performance as Selsdon Mowbray/Burglar, whose inability to make his timely entrance and his disruptive addiction to alcohol, augment the physical comedy of errors that unfolds on stage. The outstanding cast is further enriched by the delightful presence of Mai Le, who gracefully and charismatically portrays the shy assistant stage manager, Poppy. Lastly, Philip Kershaw captivates audiences with mischievousness and humor in his portrayal of Timothy Allgood, the versatile technician, understudy, and jack-of-all-trades.

An ensemble of outstanding actors, the cast of Noises Off comes together to create an uproar of laughter and entertainment, showcasing their immense talent and invaluable contribution to the comedic brilliance of the play.

Review: NOISES OFF at The Topher at Zach Theatre is BRILLIANT!
Cast of Noises Off
PC: Suzanne Cordeiro for Zach Theatre

The play's ingenious set design by Todd Rosenthal deserves special mention. The revolving two-story set, which represents the interior of a house, is intricate and realistic. It smoothly rotates to reveal the front and backstage areas, offering a glimpse into the hilarious chaos that ensues when the audience's attention is focused elsewhere. 

Director Monique Midgette, an actor herself, understands the world of this play-within-a-play. As she stated in her director’s notes, she knows people that could be any character in the play, she is every character in the play. She understands what any person is capable of when facing a highly stressful situation! Above all, Ms. Midgette knows that timing and physicality are key to making the comedic point across and she does it wonderfully in Noises Off. 

Don't miss out on the chance of a lifetime! Grab your tickets and hurry to the Topher Theatre, but be sure to watch your step and avoid any mishaps along the way!


Written by Michael Frayn 

Directed by Monique Midgette

June 14 – July 9, 2023

Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30pm

Saturday and Sunday at 2:30pm

The Topfer at ZACH Theatre

202 South Lamar

Austin, TX 78704


2023 Regional Awards


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From This Author - Sabrina Wallace

Sabrina Wallace is a Drama Desk Winner and Tony Award Nominated Producer (The Prom), Writer, World Traveler, and Leader at a High Tech Giant. She is a strong supporter of Theatre a... Sabrina Wallace">(read more about this author)


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