By Andy Propst on May 4, 2009 | In ATW Reviews
It’s non-stop laughs and hijinks as a bumbling acting troupe tries to put on a play while trying to juggle the drama in their own lives in Michael Frayn’s classic farce Noises Off playing at Hartford Stage.
Director Malcom Morrison guides a talented cast through the play-about-putting-on-a play and the top-notch split timing, pratfalls and double entendres that ensue. Lloyd Dallas (Bill Kux) shines as the inept group’s director, trying to get his actors to remember their lines, when to enter and which props to bring with them as the troupe prepares to tour the show “Nothing On.” He is interested in actress Brooke (played with terrific “blonde” gusto by Liv Rooth) who forever is losing her contact lens, but he is unaware he has fathered a child with stage manager Poppy (Veronique Hurley).
Meanwhile, actress Dotty Otley (Johanna Morrison), who can remember whether she’s supposed to bring on or take off a plate of sardines, is dating fellow actor Garry Lejeune (Michael Bakkensen), who helpfully describes every situation with, “you know…”
Fred Fellowes (David Andrew Macdonald), whose wife has left him, struggles to find the motivation for his lines when he’s not having nose bleeds brought on by the mention of the word “blood” or any kind stress. He plays opposite the sensible Belinda Blair (Andrea Cirie), who has eyes for him outside of the play as well.
Rounding out the oddball ensemble are Tim Allgood (Daniel Toot), the stage hand/understudy and Selsdon Mowbray (Noble Shropshire), an actor who is more interested in getting drunk than in remembering when to make his entrance as the burglar in the show. Misunderstandings among the romantically involved characters occur and mayhem ensues.
The first part of the action takes place on the set of “Nothing On” with the characters rehearsing their lines. Then, Tony Straiges’ set rotates for opening night. Backstage madness takes place while the play is performed out front (upstage away form the real audience) as pants, drop, injuries are sustained and the sardines fly as the troupe slugs it out behind the scenes. The action is uproarious and before you can catch your breath, the set rotates again for another performance of “Nothing On,” and this one is even more bizarre, with Otley’s character wandering around muttering “sardines” and understudies having to fill in.
It’s comedy at its best.
---- Lauren Yarger
Noises Off plays at Hartford Stage (50 Church Street, Hartford) through May 17. Performance times are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday at 7:30 pm and Friday and Saturday at 8 pm with matinee performances Sundays and selected Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2 pm. Tickets are $23 - $66 with student and other discounted tickets available. They may be purchased by calling 860-527-5151 or by visiting www.hartfordstage.org.
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