Keeping the turbulent backstage goings-on at the court of Henry VIII coherent must have been excellent training for orchestrating the intricately ordered chaos of Mr. Frayn's backstage comedy. While some tightening of a bolt here and a screw there might marginally improve matters, once it hits its lively stride, Mr. Herrin's production rollicks along with machine-tooled precision, churning out belly laughs as if from an assembly line...Dazzling though Mr. Frayn's engineering is, "Noises Off" would be a mere dissertation in clever dramaturgical mechanics, were it not for the expertly drawn characters, here embodied by a first-rate cast well aware of the addictions, indulgences, pretensions and general egotism of actors (some actors!) that Mr. Frayn is gently playing for laughs.
NOISES OFF Broadway Reviews
Reviews of Noises Off on Broadway. See what all the critics had to say and see all the ratings for Noises Off including the New York Times and More...
Michael Frayn's farce about putting on a stage farce is breathlessly clever and funny, a staple of the contemporary theater repertoire. How can it be made even funnier? The Roundabout Theatre Company somehow has found a way, armed with inspired casting...All add little touches to their parts, like Hilty mouthing everyone's lines and slithering down some stairs. Martin, we always knew, can make just holding a plate of sardines hysterical, and here she's in her element. Shamos...shows his physical comedy chops here, prat-falling and slipping on a slick stage over and over like a character from Sunday morning cartoons. McClure's manic, unhinged energy is perfect and his ferocious shaking when he's forced onstage as a replacement is stunning. Furr is a true revelation: Just listening to him bluster or watching him frantically rush around can make your ribs hurt...Everyone onstage has to believe that the risks are real, and this new ensemble never mugs or winks, despite the silliness. They are utterly, terribly good at being bad, which is meant as a supreme compliment.
Funny lady Andrea Martin leads the nimble cast of this well-tooled revival helmed by Jeremy Herrin, who kept his comedic sensibilities under wraps in last season's austere RSC production of "Wolf Hall," but cuts loose here...Act II is bust-a-gut funny...This is where helmer Herrin puts his well-drilled ensemble through the synchronized chaos that can come crashing down on their heads if someone misses a beat...Like "Law & Order" reruns, "Noises Off" seems to be always playing somewhere in the civilized world, a perfect specimen of its generic art form. And that's exactly the way it should be, because this kind of comedic brilliance never gets stale.
This revival is as glorious as "Wolf Hall" was dull, not least because it features Tracee Chimo, the most gifted young comic actor to hit Broadway in recent memory...The secret ingredient of his production is that Mr. Herrin has gone to similar lengths to ensure that every member of the cast plays for truth, not laughs -- which makes you laugh twice as hard. This brings us to the miraculous Ms. Chimo, who plays Poppy, the mousy assistant stage manager of "Nothing On," who's been sleeping with the director of the show (Campbell Scott) on the sly. Her performance is so heartbreakingly true to life that it would make you cry were you to see it in isolation. In the context of "Noises Off," though, it's funny almost beyond belief...Complaints? I've got none. This show is flawless.
An A-list ensemble, led by beloved comedienne Andrea Martin, takes classic scenes and amps them up. So here, an actor doesn't just fall down a flight of steps -- he flips over a banister with an acrobatic flourish, breaking the handrail right off its balusters. It's the sort of commitment that leaves audiences concerned for the well-being of a performer...Wonderful here, Martin conveys that Dotty Otley, leading lady of the show-within-a-show, is essentially a highly paid showgirl talking down to her character. Torturing every vowel ("saw-dines"), Martin puts her stamp on the script with wiggly-fingered antics...Of Hilty, as inept ingenue Brooke Ashton, let's note: You have to be an excellent actress to play a bad actress..."Noises Off" takes its time building to full-fledged nuttiness. But director Jeremy Herrin ("Wolf Hall") shrewdly pulls off "Off" with one intermission, combining the traditional second and third acts into one. Things here just flow.
There's no need for reinvention when it comes to "Noises Off"...For "Noises Off" to work on a basic level, its thoroughly intricate physical activity must be staged with the precision of a ballet. But a great production, which this revival certainly is, builds the slapstick around truthful performances, thus making the chaos feel natural...Jeremy Herrin, who recently staged "Wolf Hall" on Broadway, has brought together a dynamic ensemble cast of stage veterans...Hilty is especially memorable as a buxom, airheaded actress, often waving her arms like a cheerleader doing a routine, and Shamos is endearing as a sensitive actor who gets nosebleeds at the slightest hint of violence.
Today's report -- and it's a happy one -- is that this Noises Off is splendidly delirious fun. Director Jeremy Herrin...turns up with a perfectly-calibrated production which brings full value to Frayn's text while adding layers of visual humor that leaves audiences hooting with delight. The Roundabout...has in this case been content to restrict itself to talented stage actors who have heretofore displayed comic flair. This works out capitally well, and results in one of the finest Roundabout outings since Twelve Angry Men...Martin, naturally, leads the cast; as always, she need merely lift her eyebrow to garner laughs...Megan Hilty...plays Brooke, the vapid actress who continually loses her dress and her contact lens. This has always been a show-stopping role...and Hilty succeeds handily, comporting herself like a perpetually posing beauty queen-turned-game show hostess trying to get us to choose the prize behind Curtain #3.
Luckily, in director Jeremy Herrin's high-energy staging at the American Airlines Theatre, the cast, which includes Andrea Martin, Campbell Scott, and Megan Hilty, knows how to fail like pros...In true slapstick form, each of the players has a hidden game or bit of actorly preciousness that contribute to the dysfunction...The script gives each of the stars several moments to shine, and Andrea Martin anchors Herrin's production with a brilliant manic energy -- there's a certain athleticism to her almost graceful fumbling amidst the chaos. The direction, performances, and set design by Derek McLane create a symphony of shouting and flop sweat, turning pure slapstick into high art. A-
The comedy in the first of three acts feels a little forced. But Herrin - not incidentally, artistic director of a company named Headlong - soon catapults the physical and verbal humor headlong into increasingly inspired opportunities to watch characters who play second-rate actors play out their real lives while trying to perform the complications of their second-rate play. Slippery sardines have seldomed seemed as ominous as when Jeremy Shamos, terrific as a hapless neurotic, flops around on them.
Michael Frayn's perfectly constructed bit of nonsense, with no shortage of slamming doors and flying sardines, is back in an uproarious new Roundabout revival solidly mounted by Jeremy Herrin...What gives the play its momentum is the grave seriousness with which each character deals with their lot. The gifted clown Andrea Martin is just darling as Dotty, an actor of cultured tones who plays the screeching cockney maid and can't clear up in her head exactly what her blocking is in regards to moving a plate of sardines. Megan Hilty bursts onto the stage with air-headed moxie, all dolled up like Jayne Mansfield, and is a scream playing bombshell Brooke as an awful actor who faces front and presents her every line to the audience in between mouthing the lines of her colleagues. Jeremy Shamos is very funny as the good-natured, but nervous wreck Frederick, and has a bit of physical business about regaining his footing that might very well get him nominated for an Astaire Award...NOISES OFF is a night of wild, frenetic fun that guarantees more laughs than COPENHAGEN, DEMOCRACY and BENEFACTORS combined.
In 2016, it's inarguably a little late to be celebrating the stereotype of the dumb blonde. But the stiff walk and posture that Megan Hilty has created for her clueless character, a stunningly untalented British stage actress cast for her generous curves, are the gift that keeps on giving in Roundabout's delicious Broadway revival of Noises Off. Whether she's galumphing around backstage or sashaying through a performance with priceless self-consciousness -- delivering every line straight to the audience with a blissful inability to take direction or interact with her fellow cast -- Hilty's Brooke Ashton is a sparkling comic caricature that never gets tired. She's well matched in director Jeremy Herrin's production by a first-rate troupe of New York theater pros, even if this notoriously tricky backstage farce hasn't quite found its ideal precision-tooled groove.
This is Noises Off, the Roundabout Theatre Company's happy antidote to all things January, a percussive dose of slamming doors, wince-inducing pratfalls and enough suggestive tomfoolery to fill the bill at Minsky's...Jeremy Herrin, the masterly director of Wolf Hall, lets Noises Off wind up a bit slowly, but once all the gears are in synch, the show is a dazzlement of set-pieces fit together with jigsaw perfection. Martin...returns to her roots as a mistress of the comic gesture, doing more with a plate of fish or an old newspaper than you may have imagined possible. Hilty...does physical comedy as though to the manner born.
The ingenious "Noises Off" is the world champion of farces, and it's nice to report it's received a very funny, properly dizzying revival from the Roundabout Theatre Company.
Broadway's fitfully funny "Noises Off" reminds that it's tricky to perfectly bake this triple layer cake of a comedy. This production gets about it about halfway right -- so even with a soggy and slack final stretch, you're left grinning over the show's sly inner workings...Director Jeremy Herrin's staging features a number of Roundabout regulars not known for broad comedy, but David Furr, Jeremy Shamos, Tracee Chimo and Kate Jennings Grant step up. Martin, a comic ace, brings signature unhinged unpredictability -- a boon to any comedy. Daniel Davis, as wayward senior actor Selsdon, has a goofy demented look in his eyes. Megan Hilty lets it all hang out in pink lingerie and is terrific as a terrifically bad actress. Shining brightest is Rob McClure, who loads fun and finesse into the small role of an overtaxed prop manager and understudy, who shivers from stagefright like an overgrown Chihuahua.
For anyone who's seen "Noises Off" before, there's much to smile at in director Jeremy Herrin's new revival. Truly inspired is David Furr's performance as Garry Lejeune, the lead actor in "Nothing On." Each character in "Noises Off" has a quirk: nerves, incompetence, alcoholism, forgetfulness. Lejeune's thing is that he stutters. Furr wisely drops the stammering and instead turns Lejeune's inability to say certain words into a chronic inarticulateness, which is much funnier than a speech impediment...A greater problem for this production is Campbell Scott, who has neither the style nor the size to play the director of "Nothing On," who not only screws a few people in the company but also needs to represent our reaction to the general pandemonium on stage. Campbell has neither the style nor the size to carry "Noises Off."
What makes the show so enjoyably delirious -- at least when it's staged well -- is the anarchic nature of Frayn's imagination; just when things can't possibly get any worse for the actors onstage, ten more disastrous things happen, usually all at once. The good news is that the new Roundabout Theatre Company revival is directed (by Jeremy Herrin) and performed with tremendous speed, spirit and affection. The actors, especially Megan Hilty (TV's "Smash), as the bombshell ingenue who needs to mouth the words of her co-stars in order to keep up with the text, and Andrea Martin, as the alternately matriarchal and diva-ish star of "Nothin On," are completely attuned to the helium rhythms of Frayn's writing. The brilliantly staged second act, in which the backstage actors attempt to remain silent as chaos erupts onstage, is a tour de force; a ballet of incongruity and incompetence.
Noises Off is a precision-timed laugh machine, and director Jeremy Herrin's ensemble is peppered with some of New York's finest comic actors. So why did I chuckle so little-perhaps even less than at the weak 2001 mounting?...There's the culture gap: Good as our American troupers are, they don't quite get the jauntily sleazy vibe of English sex comedy...If nothing else, this should be a retro hoot and a chance for nine actors to show off their slapstick and goofing. How can anyone not cackle at master-of-squirm Jeremy Shamos slipping-for what seems an entire minute-in sardine juice? Okay, that one got me. So, fleetingly, did other elements: Megan Hilton's blond ditz, giving superbly wooden-chirpy line readings; Rob McClure's mousy, frantic understudy/stagehand; and Andrea Martin, going full zany and threatening a cheating lover with an ax. But these are only sparks, not a blaze.
At times it seems as if the cast is so focused on hitting its marks - "Noises Off" requires Swiss-like precision - that the actors forget to have fun. Let's hope that with time, they'll become as comfortable as sardines in oil, and the production should gear up into the required breakneck speed and unhinged lunacy.
Is it funny? Of course it's funny. It's very funny. It can't help but be very funny. Even the terrible movie version is funny. But could it be funnier? Well, yes.