The play Noises Off has been around since the early 80s when playwright Michael Frayn wrote it because he wanted to share a farce about what happens backstage during a production. The British play appeared on Broadway in '83, again in '01 and now is back for '16 better than ever!
I've seen it numerous times because every community theater loves to get their hands on the play about doors and sardines and give local actors a chance to share the shenanigans of performers. However, seeing it in the hands of the professionals in the Roundabout Theatre's production at the American Airlines Theatre is truly SEEING this play. This ensemble is brilliant! Director Jeremy Herrin has incorporated some of the many changes the playwright has done over the years and gives us three fast-paced acts that fly by so quickly, you'll believe you must be missing things the way the audience is laughing at every single moment.
If you don't know the play (who doesn't at this point), an acting company is opening the play "Nothing On" and it is the final rehearsal before opening night. It is past midnight and they continue to rehearse - still having issues getting used to the set, the business the director has given them, an actor with a drinking problem, and theater relationships - that all wreck havoc on the production they are doing. Then you see it all again...twice more at two performances. And trust me...it's wonderful!
Andrea Martin makes her first entrance to thunderous applause and rightfully so. Her comic-timing has never been better than as the grand dame actress Dotty Otley playing the housekeeper of the estate. The woman is comic gold. Megan Hilty (known mostly for musicals) completely impressed me as the sex-pot Brooke Ashton. I could not stop laughing at her 'presentational acting' throughout the night...no matter WHAT is happening around her onstage. Campbell Scott will forever be the young man from Longtime Companion for me, though his stage, film, and TV credits are huge. Here he takes on the director of the play with gusto, hubris, and comic chops I never knew he had.
One of my favorite NY actors is Jeremy Shamos and as Frederick Fellowes (an actor that needs to know his backstory and has constant issues with nose-bleeds), he is brilliantly funny in everything he does. I fell in love with Rob McClure when I saw him as Chaplin and man - this man should be a star. He inhabits comedy throughout his entire body. Daniel Davis kept us laughing as Niles in the "Nanny" on TV and adds so much to the comic stew of this ensemble which also includes Kate Jennings Grant as Belinda Blair who attempts to hold the group together, Tracee Chimo as the stage manager having to deal with the crazy lot, and David Furr who I've never seen, but will seek him out now. What a genius this man is in his delivery - both spoken AND physical. They all have moments to shine and they do just that.
The set, costumes - all are wonderful. My only complaint would be at times I had an issue with sound. Perhaps its the accents or the fact the audiences is laughing so hard that you miss words. But even with that, it's an evening I highly recommend. (My hubby doesn't always go with me to every show I see, but attended this and I thought I would need a medic to resuscitate him from all of his laughing.)