Written by Michael Frayn, Directed by Catherine Morrison & Scene Design by Dave Carroll

Dates 9 June - 7 July 2007 @ 8:00pm Venue Metro Theatre (1370 SW Marine Drive, Vancouver)

Reviewer Ed Farolan

This comedy has been called "the funniest farce ever written." The curtain rises, and it is only hours before the opening of a British adult farce, Nothing On, and the touring company is hurriedly running through a final dress rehearsal, before the first audience arrives.

During the first act, we are an audience to this production of a play within a play. The Nothing On cast is mainly inept. Dotty, (Alison Schamberger) the actor playing Mrs. Clackett, can’t remember her entrances and exits. Carol Burnett played this role in the movie adaptation and was much funnier, of course, than Schamberger who also got a few laughs. Brooke, (Sarah Mendenhall) playing Vicki, is the "dumb blonde" constantly posing and primping, without any understanding of what the play is about or what she is doing. She is scantily clad, and looks very sexy.

Meanwhile Garry (Keith Barry), playing her love interest Roger, is constantly trying to stay on par with the rest of the company. Barry played his role really well, and the audience was falling off their seats especially in the last act which was pure slapstick when he bumps into every prop in sight before he falls and passes out. He received a warm applause for this particular scene.

The other romantic couple consists of Frederick (Mike Wild) playing Philip and Belinda (Scheherazaad Cooper) playing Flavia. Cooper's timing was impeccable, as she entered and exited bringing in props and taking them offstage. Frederick was extremely hilarious with his nosebleeding, his pants falling off, his hands glued to props--he had the audience bellowing in laughter. The director, Lloyd Dallas, (Ben Wilkinson) played his part well as the playboy director offstage and the frantic director onstage trying to get everybody ready for opening night. The only thing I didn't like was his constant use of the "f" word which I don't think was in Frayn's script.

In Act 2, we, the audience, are sitting backstage and the entire set has been turned 180 degrees. This was indeed funny seeing the actors doing their antics offstage between their exits and entrances. Relationships between cast members, as well as the quality of the play have deteriorated. Tim (Christopher Walters), the company stage manager, tries valiantly to keep the show together while dragging the actors out of their dressing rooms in time for their entrances.

Meanwhile; Garry and Dotty are in the middle of an unhappy love affair. Poppy, (Lisa Gach) the assistant stage manager has a “little” secret; and Selsdon Mowbray, (Paul Fisher) an actor past his prime, is trying to stay sober between scenes. Fisher acted out his part quite well. Throughout this act, the company is in a continual state of agitation, and this disorder is carrying over into the play, causing missed entrances, flubbed lines, and frantic hilarity on the part of the audience who was enjoying every minute of the actors' misshaps in last June 14's performance.

Act 3 was even more frenetic, and we see the play again as it was in Act 1, where it has gone from bad to worse with actors missing entrances and exits, improvising lines, tripping all over the stage -- a total mayhem. The audience was just fully entertained and laughing all through this act. In fact, there were a few who stood up during curtain call showing the appreciation for a play superbly directed, brilliantly acted and masterfully designed.

Congratulations to the cast and crew. It was a totally entertaining play.

© 2007 Ed Farolan