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"Noises Off," show #870

When the Municipal Theatre presents their love story-gone-wrong, Nothing On, audiences are treated to a tech rehearsal—but it might be a dress?—the backstage antics of opening night, and the concluding performance of its run. The cast comprising the company of actors, crew, and director over at the Pear Theatre are at top-notch comedic level, with both delivery and physical prowess on display. The (appearing-ly) effortless energy the cast exudes in Noises Off, the beloved three-act farce, is anything but easy, and yet, their timing and chemistry makes Michael Frayn’s script–one of the few high-brow slapstick comedies­sing.

(L to R: Kristin Walter (Belinda), Judith Miller (Dotty), Natalie To (Brooke), Kyle Dayrit (Lloyd), Michael Rhone (Frederick); Photo credit: Caitlin Stone-Collonge)

Judith Miller kicks off the show as Dotty, an actress playing an appropriately-named housemaid, who just wants to get through a scene without flubbing a prop placement or exit. Miller’s facial expressions speak volumes on top of her dynamite reactions to the rest of the cast in their respective zany interactions. Kyle Dayrit (who doubles the role with Bryan Moriarty) does a swell job as director, Lloyd, who just wants to get on with the show without the complications presented him. Michael Rhone, as Frederick, and Kristin Walter (who doubles the role with Tannis Hanson), as Belinda, give delightfully gut-splitting laughs as they attempt to handle the majority of the chaos happening around them and to them, especially in the second and third acts. Ken Boswell delivers a scene-stealing performance as the bumbling drunk, Selsdon, who gives as much as he gets in every act with each entrance topping the last with laughter.

(L to R: Judith Miller (Dotty), Brandon Silberstein (Tim), Tannis Hanson (Belinda), Jordan Goodwin (Poppy), Center-Ken Boswell (Selsdon), Bryan Moriarty (Lloyd), Natalie To (Brooke), Michael Rhone (Frederick), Chris Mahle (Garry); Photo credit: Caitlin Stone-Collonge)

Natalie To does is superb as the young ingénue, Brooke, opposite Chris Mahle’s appropriately stressed out Garry. From Mahle and To’s first entrance, their characters are firmly grounded in the tension, and their second act escapades, individually, are a stunning display of physical comedy at its best. Brandon Silberstein is a standout as Tim, the handyman crew member working on 48 hours of no sleep in the first act, and trying to control the chaos as crewman and actor in the subsequent acts. Vivienne Truong (who doubles the role with Jordan Goodwin) rounds out the cast well as the stage manager, Poppy, and gives a wonderful depth to the frustrations of running the show while managing the personalities and mishaps in all three acts.

(L to R: Judith Miller (Dotty) and Natalie To (Brooke); Photo credit: Caitlin Stone-Collonge)

Guiding the ship is Katie O’Bryon Champlin, whose sublime direction makes every bit standout, ensuring the audience knows exactly where to look, and making each act an absolute polished pleasure to watch. The ongoing bits established early on pay off in droves in the second and third acts, a testament to Champlin and company’s obvious understanding of what makes Noises Off succeed. Louis Stone-Collogne’s impeccable set design is a visual and functional delight on the cozy Pear Theatre stage. The audience is given a backstage tour as they’re guided from the House to the Backstage, with each side allowing for the most comedy possible. Trish Files’s costume design is perfect for the farce, giving identifying palettes and lovely patterns for each character to dash about the set in. Ed Hunter’s lighting design gives a nice foundation of focus to Champlin’s staging while establishing the theatrical aesthetic immediately and consistently.

(L to R: Judith Miller (Dotty), Ken Boswell (Selsdon), Kristin Walter (Belinda), Brandon Silberstein (Tim), Vivienne Truong (Poppy), Kyle Dayrit (Lloyd), Natalie To (Brooke), Chris Mahle (Garry); Photo credit: Caitlin Stone-Collonge)

Nailing the show-within-the-show dynamic of scripts like Noises Off is no easy task, but rest assured that this play is in solid hands over at the Pear Theatre. Though their run is sold out, do go to their website and continue to see if any tickets open up. If you have the chance to see this Noises Off you won’t want to miss it, and if you already have your tickets then get ready for gut-busting laughter and a healthy dose of sardine representation. Go see this show!

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