Metro Theatre co-production with First Impressions Theatre Company
Noises Off

When & Where March 16 - April 6 2024, evenings at 8pm, matinees on Sundays at 2pm | Metro Theatre, 1370 MarineDrive SW, Vancouver

Director Claude A. Giroux Set Design Nicholas Boughen Costume Design Iryna Steller & Tiffany Bishop Fight Coordinator Adara Broyles Lighting Design Michael Smith Lighting Operator Janice Howell Sound Design Janice Howell Stage Manager Janice Howell

Reviewer Christian Steckler

Successful farce is a complex product of witty writing, strategic situations aimed at eliciting genuine laughter, fastidiously borderline (or not) exaggerated acting, and timing, all dependent on flawless technical production. This co-production of Noises Off is all of these, in a madcap story of actors putting on a play.

Michael Frayn’s inspirational script comes to life under Claude Giroux’s masterful direction. With well-paced dysfunction, “the actors” carry the audience through a foundational first act, where we learn their characters and most of the general story they are trying to portray in their show. Giroux cranks up their action in the second act, adding interpersonal elements that complicate their performances; and the third act brings us the results of those complications. The hilarity builds throughout the performance, and the audience’s laughter grows more consistent and louder as time goes on.

So much for the witty writing and strategies involved in successful farce. What the audience sees are the actors. The cast in this production is wonderful! Their portrayal of the hilariously unfortunate “actors” is superb all round. Ryan Crocker, as the “director Lloyd”, is suitably frustrated by his troupe in the first act, and devilishly complicit in the squabbles of the second act. Tiffany Bishop, as the “actor Dotty Otley” playing a wonderfully addle-brained housekeeper, Mrs. Clackett, is delightfully spot-on with the character, once we become familiar with her rapid-fire dialogue with such a strong regional British accent. Her character binds the others in the rollicking action of the play.

Matthew Ip Shaw and Veronica Bonderud as “Garry Lejuene” and “Brooke Ashton”, play characters Roger Tramplemain and Vicki, who are looking for an opportunity for more than a little hanky-panky. Shaw’s talent in portraying a vaguely faux intellectual actor stands out, and Bonderud shines in “Brooke’s” portrayal of a provocative, though perhaps slightly vacant, Vicki. Jonathon Connelly as “Frederick Fellowes”, playing Philip Brent, a tax evader, is a brilliant hapless centre of much of the physical comedy in the “production”, and Leigh Richards Stewart as “Belinda Blair”, playing his wife Flavia, is charmingly strong in her role as a fixer-of-problems wherever they arise, on-stage or off.

Charity Principe stands out with her focused performance as a faithful and dedicated stage manager, “Poppy”, and Peter Robbins as “Selsdon”, acting as the burglar, gives an equally fine and capable performance. Elijah Bamberry, as “Tim the backstage crewman”, shows talents waiting to be recognized with larger roles.

The production team deserves high praise. The sets are impressive, and the props are fitting - on both sides of the set. Lighting and sound are flawless, and costumes suit the circumstances beautifully (especially Vicki’s, which left not much to the imagination).

All in all, then, this collaborative production of Noises Off ticks all the boxes that make a fine farce. If you enjoy laughing, and you like a bit of over-the-top theatrics - the essence of farce - this production is for you!

© 2024 Christian Steckler