Slamming doors and jamming doors. Crashing props. Brandished axes. Bottles of whisky. Dropped trousers and dropped plates of sardines. Prat falls and brawls. Farce is all about noise and sight gags, and SOAP’s upcoming comedy promises to be jam-packed with hilarious action. Noises Off by Michael Frayn runs three evenings, Thursday January 21 to Saturday January 23, at the Frank Venables Theatre, at 7:30 p.m. One matinee, on Saturday January 23 is at 1:00 p.m.
Noises Off takes its title from a stage direction for sounds coming from behind-the-scenes. This backstage farce follows a hapless company of actors as they limp through the final dress rehearsal of an English sex comedy (and play-within-a-play), Nothing On. Muddled lines, collapsing set, love triangles, artistic temperament, and one clueless blonde in lingerie are driving the cast’s bullying director, Lloyd Dallas, to madness. In this case, the “noises off” are the unplanned crashes and screams of the actors as the play-within-a-play slowly disintegrates into chaos.
Lloyd (played by Trevor Leigh) directs a bumbling cast: diva Dotty (Carrie Lyle), tongue-tied Garry (Craig Bjornson), dim-witted Freddy (Nathan Linders), reliable Belinda (Penelope Johnson), alcoholic thespian Selsdon (Michael Ryan) and ditzy ingénue (Robin Stille). Lloyd is aided by his stage managers, love-lorn Poppy (Jen Jensen) and overworked Tim (Brohm Dason).
The audience is treated to three versions of Nothing On (the play-within-a-play). Act 1 immerses the audience in the disastrous dress rehearsal, with director Lloyd shouting last-minute instructions from the seats, and other actors making their arrival onstage from different points in the theatre. After an intermission when the set is revolved, Act 2 reveals a brawling backstage view of their touring performance. Act 3 is the riotous closing night, when all lines are abandoned and cast of Nothing On must improvise their way to the final curtain.
The revolving set, a 16th century millhouse, is as much a character as the cast. Designed and built by Shawn Henderson and Craig Bjornson, the two-storey set revolves twice during each performance, to reveal both the onstage and backstage action. Director Ted Osborne holds the reins on this careening comedy, aided by stage manager Diane Gludovatz. Aimee Grice makes her debut as producer with the help of countless volunteers.
All performances are at the Frank Venables Theatre in Oliver, due to the complexity of the set. Noises Off advance tickets are $18 at Sundance Video in Oliver and Your Dollar Store with More in Osoyoos. Tickets at the door are $20. More information at www.soplayers.ca and info @ soplayers.ca
Pictured from top: Brohm Dason, Craig Bjornson, Nathan Linders, Penelope Johnson, Trevor Leigh, Jen Jensen, and Robin Stille collapse through the mill door in SOAP’s Noises Off