By Mindy Mateuszczyk
Perhaps Director Scott Ford said it best in his Director’s Notes, when he suggested Noises Off is a show best enjoyed by simply “letting it wash over you.”
Noises Off is not a show that will make you think deeply. It is not a show that addresses world problems or stands up for anything, except maybe a love of sardines. In fact, there is a tremendous amount of falling down that occurs throughout the show. Just the physical demands of the actors alone would exclude many a regular community theater participant from being capable of pulling off this show as seamlessly as this cast of nine did masterfully. Throw in some hefty timing requirements with props, comedic line delivery and a twisting and turning plot and suddenly you realize you are watching a group of extremely talented actors.
Kate Beahen sparkles as the dimwitted Brook Ashton (Vicki). Her character’s signature moves while acting as Vicki in the play within a play are hilarious. Neal Skoy as Garry LeJune (Roger) also turns in a phenomenal performance that serves to heighten the tension and frantic pace of the show remarkably.
Having had the good fortune to watch Corey Okonek (Selson Mowbray/Burglar), Matt McNabb (Tim Algood/Company Stage Manager) and Nick Menzhuber (Lloyd) in other shows both at Lyric and around the metro, it was a pleasure to see these top-notch actors in new and different roles bringing to life their characters in creative ways.
The rest of the cast is fantastic as well, each creating a unique persona for their “on-stage” and “off-stage” personalities.
Perhaps the most impressive moment in the show was when Act II closes and you realizes the entire act was done with two “shows” running simultaneously. The play within the play, Nothing On runs behind the set which you get a glimpse of through a large picture window in the set. The second storyline provides a close-up view of the goings on backstage. This portion of the show is executed with almost no dialogue and yet, you know exactly what has happened and how everyone feels about everyone else, which is rather complicated and comical as these characters’ relationships begin to unravel.
Noises Off is an uncommon three-act show with two intermissions but don’t let that scare you off. The show’s pace is quick and full of laughs. With a running time of about 2.5 hours, the need for two intermissions is due to a complete change of set twice. It is a quick change that simply reverses the backstage portion of the set to the viewing audience and then back again. Once again, Lyric Arts’ set designers have done an amazing job creating an interesting and solid set that in this case, is one of the most beat up and abused sets a show sees. Making it more challenging, there can be no “patches” or “ugly fixes” hidden on the backside of the set since it gets exposed during Act II.
Indeed, with its fast paced hijinx one simply must buckle up and hold on for the twisting and turning, often hysterical, ride that is Noises Off. I hope you enjoy the show!
A little bit about Mindy: Mindy Mateuszczyk is a journalist with the Minnesota Sun Press Newspapers and has been an active member of the metro area community theater both onstage and as an audience member for nearly a decade. Previously, Mateuszczyk has lived and worked in the Boston suburbs, southern California, Salt Lake City and upstate New York. She has studied film, photography, theater, public relations, communications and journalism.