BWW Review: NOISES OFF at Theatre Three
Before the The Play That Goes Wrong there was Noises Off. There are few directors, designers, and actors that can take on this incredibly difficult work. The comedic timing must be perfectly executed, the set has to change into two different sets between acts, and it is very physically demanding. Theatre Three's production has mastered it. The opening night audience of Noises Off were left completely sore from laughter. I am happy to say it was one of the most hilarious productions I have seen here in DFW. For those of you that are unfamiliar with the classic, Noises Off by Michael Frayn is about a group of actors who are rehearsing the play Nothing On. Broken into 3 acts the actors rehearse the play in Act 1, perform it in Act 2 (shown from backstage), and performing again Act 3. The characters in this show are completely dysfunctional from who is sleeping with whom, drinking problems, divorces, etc. It's a proper madhouse set for disaster.
Directed by Kara-Lynn Vaeni and Assistant Directed by Josh LeBlanc, Noises Off did not give these two any room for error, and yet they still manage to include their own spin on it. Instead of setting it in the UK like the original script says, Vaeni chose to set it in Texas. With references to Waco, Marfa, and Wichita Falls, it added an extra chuckle here and there. The dialects are also Texan when the actors are out of character. How they managed to edit these very carefully placed lines was quite impressive. The blocking is mostly done through stage directions due to the nature of the play. Working this through with the actors is already incredibly difficult, but you also have to do the blocking with the set backwards in Act 2 adding on new blocking shown backstage. One small misstep in Act 1 could jeopardize blocking in the rest of the play. I am proud to say that every piece blocking, action and line was in precise placement and successfully executed by the actors.
The designers and stage manager deserve their own curtain call for taking on such a complicated show. Jeffrey Schmidt (also Artistic Director of Theatre Three) has a brilliant design for the reversible set. Seven different panels split between two floors, have two different facades on either side. The stage hands in between each act have to simply (and not so simply) turn it around to show the back or front of the set depending on the act. Without a costly turntable, this set can be a nightmare for a theatre, but Schmidt made it a dream. The Lighting designed by Lindsay Silva and Aaron Johansen, and Costumes designed by Susan Yanofsky, had the daunting task of making their work look made for a low budget production that the story requires. Some of the yellow and bright lighting and bright clashing colors of the costumes often added humor to the story and really enhanced the production. To Lauren E. Volz and the rest of the backstage crew, this is not an easy show and I am truly impressed with how smoothly the production runs.
This cast is perfection in every role. A strong ensemble as a whole but still adding individuality and specific quirks that their role requires. The show starts off with Dotty played by Kristin McCollum. McCollum did a fantastic job by switching from Dotty to her role as Mrs. Clackett with her dry sense of humor and dramatic shift in her weight. Tadeo Martinez as Garry Lejeune really deserves recognition for his dialect switching between characters and going half of Act 2 with his shoes tied together. Hysterical physical comedy from McCollum and Martinez. Michael Federico (in the role of Lloyd Dallas) does a wonderful job playing the director of the whole production. It can be easy to play this role as just a womanizer and stressed out director. Federico makes it more dynamic, and I found him incredibly fun to watch. Chris Sanders (playing Belinda Blair)was perfect for this role. Blair is not written as the most comical character, however Sanders' work with their large eyes and comical facial expressions reminded me of Lucille Ball. Ashley Wood (performing Frederick Fellowes), Catherine D. DuBord (performing Brooke Ashton), and Mac Welch (performing Tim Allgood) were solid in their performances. DuBord and Wood do not play the brightest characters, however they are smart with their acting choices and delivery. Welch was every stage hand's hero playing the overworked and exhausted stage hand, Tim. The delightful Selsdon Mowbray was played by Adrian Churchill and he did not disappoint. This character is ALL about timing and precision and he executed it perfectly. Finally the timid Poppy was performed by Robin Clayton. A difficult role as the stage manager with not always the most lines, Clayton was engaging throughout. Her nervous energy and explosive frustration were perfection. This review does not do these actors justice. Physically demanding and tiring as this show may be, they all were fantastic.
Noises Off is not to be missed. I highly encourage you to go and enjoy this hilarious farce this holiday season through December 22nd. Tickets can be purchased here! https://www.theatre3dallas.com/shows-tickets/