Noises Off
by Michael Frayne

Dates and Venue 20-23 October 2010, 8pm (matinee on 23 Oct at 3pm) | Performing Arts Theatre of Capilano University

Director Dawn Moore Assistant Director Shannon Holmes Lighting Designer Alia Stephen Costume Designer Charlotte Burke Set Designer Keita Selina Sound Designer Tommy Osmond Stage Manager Gen Bouchard

Reviewer Cassie Silva

I had high expectations heading into Exit 22’s season opener. This would mark the third time I’ve seen this hilarious play-within-a-play over the years and I was excited to see what would make it unique this time around – would it live up to my memories of it? I was also excited to introduce my friend and soon-to-be fellow audience member to what the New York Times calls, “The funniest play ever written.” Director Dawn Moore, a theatre teacher at Capilano University, says "This show is a director's playground, an actor's comic marathon and a laugh-riot for the audience. Frayne has gathered every silly moment he has ever seen in rehearsals and backstage and bundled them together in one hilarious show." Essentially, I walked into the theatre to greet that play like I was embarking on a blind date to meet my future husband – I just knew in my heart it would be everything I hoped for and more.

I am pleased to say Exit 22’s fun version lived up to my expectations humour-wise, but also added a dash of unique flavour that made it new for me. The production’s most notable achievement was the impressive amount of physical comedy – from swinging axes, to men falling down stairs; the on-stage action was constant, chaotic, and well-choreographed. There was so much going on at any given time, I wouldn’t be surprised if audience members decided to return on another night to catch things they missed the first time around. At times I felt the action was a little too far-fetched and unbelievable and detracted from the storyline, but the audience certainly disagreed with me based on the amount of laughter, snorts, guffaws and even tears occurring all around me. This is definitely a must-see show for anyone who has ever worked in the theatre – no doubt you will find yourself nodding along and whispering to your friends, “Oh, we’ve been there!” For example – when a song began “onstage” signalling the opening of the show, the actors waiting “backstage” were all grooving along, as happens during most show runs.

Perhaps I should have mentioned the unique staging that makes this show what it is – during Act One the audience gets to watch a dress rehearsal of the show-within-a-show that the characters are rehearsing called Nothing On, for Act Two the entire set is actually flipped around so we get to see the action that takes place behind the stage, and for Act Three, the set flips around once more and we become actual audience members of the finished product. If that doesn’t pique your interest I don’t know what will.

The actors all suited their roles well, but stand-outs included Arash Memarzadeh as the stressed out director, the hilarious Cory Haas as the nervous actor Frederick Fellows, and an underwear-clad Javia Selina as the ditzy Brooke Ashton.

Noises Off was written by English playwright Michael Frayne and premiered in London in 1982 to great reviews. Frayn got the idea for the play after watching a farce of his being performed from backstage, and realizing it was a actually a much more entertaining show from the wings than from the audience! Noises Off was remounted several times on Broadway where it was nominated for and won several Tony Awards before being rewritten and modernized in 2000. The name of the play refers to a stage direction in the theatre that calls for noise to come from offstage – something that certainly occurred on numerous occasions during this crazy production!

© 2010 Cassie Silva