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Theater review: 'Noises Off' at A Noise Within

November 19, 2009 |  5:15 pm

400. Noises164 Producing “Noises Off,” Michael Frayn’s 1982 farce within a farce, is not for the faint of heart.  The show calls for a dauntingly elaborate set, massive set changes over two intermissions, and a serendipitous conjunction of director, actors, designers and techies, all of whom must meet the comedy’s frenetic demands without a lapse.

The necessary requirements are blissfully exceeded in the current production at A Noise Within.  Cavorting on Adam Lillibridge’s Broadway-ready set, director Geoff Elliott and a superb cast hit the banana peel running and never let up.

In this case, slimy spilled sardines substitute, malodorously, for the banana peel. That’s appropriate, considering that “Nothing On,” the play-within-this-play, is a low-rent sex comedy that could be mounted on a Siberian glacier and still stink on ice.

The first act revolves around an ill-fated dress rehearsal just hours shy of opening. Act II takes us backstage a month into the tour.  And we’re back onstage in Act III for closing night, a disaster of Chernobyl-esque proportions.

It doesn’t help that Dotty Otley (Deborah Strang), the show’s cue-challenged star, couldn’t remember a line if it were tattooed on her forearm. But the real problem is backstage hanky-panky. Director Lloyd Dallas (played by director Elliott in neatly ironic casting) has been carrying on with vapid bombshell  Brooke (Emily Kosloski) and naive stage manager Poppy (Lenne Klingaman).  Dotty’s jealous lover, Garry Lejeune (Mikael Salazar, in a particularly riotous turn), has it in for Frederick (Stephen Rockwell), a clueless Method wannabe who has gotten overly cozy with Dotty. Gossip-extraordinaire Belinda (Jill Hill) fans the flames with reports of salacious scandal.  And the entire company, including hard-pressed jack-of-all-trades Tim (Shaun Anthony) keeps constant tabs on doddering drunk Selsdon (Apollo Dukakis), who is always on the brink of a bender.

Frayn’s wryly reductive classic gives us a behind-the-scenes glimpse of a theatrical hothouse, where titanic egos and meager talents clash, hilariously.  In a smoothly trouble-free production, Elliott and company bake the turkey to a golden brown, just in time for your holiday enjoyment.

– F. Kathleen Foley

“Noises Off,” A Noise Within, 234 S. Brand Blvd., Glendale. $40-$44.  In repertory.  Ends Dec. 20.  Call (818) 240-0910 Ext. 1 for dates and times.  Running time:  2 hours, 30 minutes.

Photo: Deborah Strang, Jill Hill and Emily Kosloski. Photo credit: Craig Schwartz.

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