Review by Molly Alderson
“Confusion, chaos and canoodling”–NKU’s “Noises Off” is a “Who’s on First” farce, filled with dynamic and lovable characters that you’ll not want to miss.
Northern Kentucky University’s School of the Arts continues its 21/22 Theatre + Dance season with Michael Frayn’s “Noises Off,” running from Oct. 14-24, 2021 at NKU’s Corbett Theatre.
Deemed one of “the funniest farces ever written” NKU performers took this performance to new heights. Literally as the beautifully crafted set is two-stories.
The show, “Noises Off,” is a show within a show. The audience is observing three parts (acts) of the actual performance ‘Nothing On’ front of stage and back stage. We are taken through a haphazard journey with the characters through confusion, chaos and canoodling via a dress rehearsal, a live performance and a catastrophic performance, 6 months later, where the true chaos unfolds.
Curtain up, we are greeted with Dotty Otley (played by Reagan Ruth) the housekeeper as she sets the stage for the mayhem that is about to unfold. Ruth was sweet and wickedly funny, and felt like the glue (or should be say Sardines) that held the show together. Next we meet Gary Lejeune (Trey Finkensead) who plays an ego-driven yet oddly heartwarming tax attorney who is entertaining his ‘guest’ Brooke Ashton (played by Chloe Hedrick). Hedrick’s role was priceless, an audience favorite, and while her character was supposed to be dense, Hedrick felt like she was floating, delivering punching lines and ‘gags’ with ease. Our next couple to the stage is Belinda Blair and Frederick Fellowers (played by Kirby Schwarber and Liam Sweeney). Schwarber and Sweeney were a delight to watch as they attempted to ‘pick up the pieces’ of the other ‘Nothing On’ characters. All the while, we have ‘Nothing On’ frustrated director Lloyd Dallas (Austin Fidler) shouting stage cues and directions. Let us not forget our charming ‘stage managers’ Poppy Norton-Taylor (played by Hannah Beaven) and Tim Allgood (played by Hailey Watson) who perfectly complemented the outrageous cast of characters and constantly looking for the ‘star performer’, a eldery, alcoholic, and constantly missing Selsdon Mowbray (played by Joel Parece). Parece seemingly had the most fun with his character, through physical comedy and a delightful whit. From commitment to characters, dedication to razor sharp stage blocking and overall comedic timing of jokes and lines, the cast is a group of rising stars within the theatre community.
Overall the show had the audience in tears, laughing through the entire production. “Noises Off” director Ken Jones, along with his amazing team, Erin Caudill (Stage Manager), Samantha Reno (Scenic Designer) Ronnie Chamberlain (Costume Design) Jo Sanburg (Lighting Design) Kevin Havlin (Sound Design) and Rob Kerby (Technical Director) should be celebrated for their commitment to this incredibly difficult show.
A director’s note that is worth mentioning is that “‘Nothing On,’ the play within “Noises Off,” pulls no punches with outlandish sexism, racism and sexual proclivity peppered throughout, an homage to British farce of the 1970s…the comedy in ‘Nothing On,’ particularly the references to Arabs, is deliberately ignorant as a reflection of the xenophobia of the time and is intended as an indictment of that ideology and not a celebration of it…this reminds us how far we have come and in these divisive times, how much further we have to go”.
Check out “Noises Off” at the Corbett Theatre at NKU for its final performances this weekend, it’s a show you won’t want to miss. Buy tickets HERE.
Molly Alderson is an advertising professional. She is a Wittenberg University alum, where she attended on a theatre scholarship. Since graduating, Molly has performed in both theatre, dance and improv groups across the country.