BWW Review: NOISES OFF Delight at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company
The Cincinnati Shakespeare Company concludes their 2017-2018 season with the hysterical British farce: "Noises Off" running now through June 9! The play follows a theatre company as they rehearse and perform a sex farce called "Nothing On" with much chaos ensuing in the process.
The play is divided into three acts: the first being the final dress rehearsal. In this act, the audience sees how utterly unprepared the company is to open the show in less than 24 hours. There are forgotten lines, missed cues, and prop confusion to name a few of the troubles that occur.
The second act shows what goes on backstage during one of the performances. In this act, we see relationships that were being speculated about in the first act deteriorating, and many secrets trying to be kept. The drama that erupts backstage is made apparent onstage in the third act as the audience witnesses one of the final performances of "Nothing On" where everything that could go wrong does indeed fall apart.
All the characters' personalities are just as large as the farce that is being performed. With the "Nothing On" cast alone, the audience sees the following: the forgetful yet fiery older actress, Dotty Otley (Dale Hodges), the compassionate gossip, Belinda Blair (Kelly Mengelkoch), the alcoholic and hard of hearing elderly actor, Selsdon Mowbray (Joneal Joplin), the not quite articulate Garry Lejeune (Jeremy Dubin), the ditsy Brooke Ashton (Brooke Steele), and the sensitive, blood-fearing Frederick Fellowes (Justin McCombs). Then when the "production team": the frustrated director, Lloyd Dallas (Brian Isaac Phillips); the hard-working stage manager, Poppy Norton-Taylor (Sara Clark) and the hilariously tired jack of all trades, Tim Allgood (Geoffrey Warren Barnes II), mix with the actors, there is bound to be a clashing of wills.
While the script itself has a lot of funny material to go off of, the comedy is wonderfully heightened by the talented cast of actors. The play is a real ensemble piece which means that the cast's onstage harmony is imperative. All the actors seem to work together quite flawlessly. When there is that much physical comedy in a show, it takes a significant amount of finessing and getting the timing perfect. Ed Stern's directing combined with the actors' performances makes all the quirks and slapstick comedy not at all overbearing, and it was continually entertaining as trousers fell, doors wouldn't open, and people slid downstairs.
Overall, "Noises Off" makes for a fun night out of sidesplitting laughter and loads of slapstick comedy performed by one of the most talented companies in Cincinnati! Don't miss it running now through June 9!
*The performance being discussed in this review was a preview performance before the show's opening on May 18*