Silhouette Stages’ play-within-a-play Noises Off by Noises Off, produced by Jeremy Goldman and directed by Conni Ross is playing at Slayton House in Columbia, MD. If you have never seen a production of this play, it is a wonderful British farce full of slapstick and laugh-out-loud moments.
A group of not very talented actors are performing a silly nonsensical comedy, called Nothing On. Act I is the final rehearsal, Act II occurs after the play opens and has been on the road for a bit, and Act III is at the end of their tour through many odd-sounding British small towns. At the rehearsal, we get a peek and the personalities and relationships, and as the performances go on, we see these relationships unfold and unravel in hilarious mayhem.
Dottie Otley/Mrs. Clackett is superbly played by Maribeth Vogel. Dottie is the slightly older actress with a poor memory, but a very active libido. Vogel lets us know about her character right from the start, a little forgetful, a little cranky, and a little horny.
Jeff Dunne (Frederick Fellowes/Philip Brent) is hilarious as the character literally caught with his pants down and making a bloody nose seem funny. Playing his counterpart Belinda Blair/Flavia Brent is the equally-talented Julie Press, doing a great job as the comic straight man, especially in Act II when she tries to keep a bottle of liquor away from the resident alcoholic, Selsdon Mawbray/Burglar.
Don Patterson shines as the drunken Mawbray, never being so drunk he can’t go on. Adam Abruzzo is excellent in capturing the lowly-regarded and often put-upon stage manager Tim Allgood. Abruzzo’s portrayal presents the audience with a young man who is sleep-deprived in Act I, and then the not very competent wrangler who has a difficult time controlling his crazy actors Gary Reichard as the harried director, Lloyd Dallas, is at the top of his form at the end in a wonderful choreographed scene with Abruzzo and Patterson. Ryan Reichard does an extremely competent job as Gary Lejerune/Roger Tramplemain a person who really cannot complete a thought.
Allie Dreskin ably manages to pull of the dumb blondes:Brooke Ashton and Vicki, and is especially hysterical at the end of Act I, as she adds to all the confusion that follows.
Rounding out the fine cast is Parker Bailey Steven as Poppy Norton-Taylor – the Assistant Stage Manager. She adds a lot of laughs to this already very funny production.
Conni Ross’s direction is a fine example of choreography. Successful slapstick comedy is always a feat of directing movement very precisely, and Ross has a great deal of experience directing musicals. This is a great asset in doing a production like Noises Off.
The real star of the show is Alex Porter’s incredible set. It is two intricate levels of several doors with a staircase and a French window. That would be hard enough to conjure up, but in Act II it is flipped around so we see the set from the backstage view of “Nothing On.” For Act III it is flipped one more time. Kudos also to Set Decorator Kirsten Jolly for her fine work, and to Mark Scanga’s lighting design, keeping the set all lit on both levels.
Laurie Reichard did a exemplary job as Costume Designer, from raunchy and silly underclothes to sheik’s robes. A nod also to the Sound Designer Ethan Hogarty, as this play has more than its share of bangs, slams, and rings that must go off on cue. Also a quick mention should go to Steve Teller who designed the fun program.
A play that is full of entrances and exits also needs a great Stage Manager, and this production has one: Donna Hawkes keeps everything moving with precision behind the scenes.
Whether you have seen Noises Off or not, you must trip on over to Silhouette Stages’ hilarious production! Sardines anyone?
Running Time: Two hours and 30 minutes, with one intermission.
Noises Off plays through March 20, 2016 at Silhouette Stages performing at Slayton House Theatre in Wilde Lake Village Center— 10400 Cross Fox Lane, in Columbia, MD. For tickets, call the box office at (410) 637-5289, or purchase them online.