Noises Off at Syracuse Stage - WOWPosted: Updated:
Noises Off by Michael Frayn, often considered the penultimate theater farce, is produced often, to varying degrees of success and hilarity. Its demands on comedic timing and physical comedy are appealing to all theater groups, both amateur and professional. However, directors often bite off more than they can chew. It takes real chops to pull of this show with the precision intended by the author. Luckily, Syracuse Stage has Artistic Director Robert Hupp, whose work here is a dazzling tour-de-force.
The incredibly talented ensemble works like a well-oiled machine under Hupp’s inspired direction. The entire cast is fantastic and valiantly earn the old adage: comedy is hard. Dori Legg plays actress Dotty Otley who plays Mrs. Clackett, who cannot seem to figure out what to do with the plate of sardines and the phone receiver. Legg is spot on, as a veteran comedic actress who despite her reputation is starting to forget “business.” Andrew Ramcharan Guilarte plays beleaguered, Casanova director, Lloyd Douglas, whose façade of calm and control hysterically erodes as everything that could possibly go wrong, does in the fictional regional production of Nothing On by Robin Housemonger. The fictional names in Noises Off are, like everything else in Fryan’s script, hysterical.
Other crew members are Tim Allgood the Stage Manager, played by the nimble Blake Segal, and the put-upon Assistant stage Manager Poppy Norton-Taylor, a frazzled, funny Kate Hamill. Other factional cast members include Gerry LeJeune who plays philandering Roger Tempemain. LeJeune is played by Seth Andrew Bridges. Bridges is fantastic, a brilliant farceur. Michael Keyloun is also great as Frederic Followes, a sensitive, fussy actor who plays the character of Philip Brent in Nothing On. Both men are a joy to watch, and are masters of physical comedy. Brad Bellamy plays boozy, venerable actor Selsdon Mowbray. Bellamy embodies the character so effortlessly, that even during the most frantic moments his loopy daftness seems relaxed. The cast is completed by the excellent performances of Belinda Blair as Gina Daniels and Eliza Huberth as Brooke Ashton. Huberth’s as the dimwitted Ashton, is delightful with her facial expressions, she is in a constant state of confusion. Blair’s primness and composure is grace under fire, and although her character indulges in the farcical activity she never loses control.
One of the reasons why this production works so well is this tight ensemble. It is a testament to both Hupp’s casting and directing that each performance is unique, and the performances complement each other. As one performer is physically loose, another might be more contained. Everything is orchestrated expertly. I loved this production. The second act is sublime. I could watch it over and over again, and still not catch everything.
It’s fun. It’s hilarious. It’s a smash.
Photo credit: Michael Davis