Davidson Community Player’s Hilarious Comedy “Noises Off” Rattles the Duke Auditorium
Yes, Jill Bloede does have another Dotty left in her. Again, she’s magnificent playing the Onstage housekeeper Dotty Otley in Davidson Community Players’ farcical comedy, Noises Off at the Duke Family Performance stage on campus at Davidson College. Jill doesn’t miss a beat switching from her Offstage character, the hospitable, slow Mrs. Clackett nor does she drop her Cockney accent as Dotty, roles she played twelve years ago in the award winning DCP production directed by James Yost.This summer, Noises Off, is directed by Matt Webster, who also cast returning actor Jonathan Ray in the production.
Jonathan played the director, Lloyd Dallas, in 2010. Now as the Offstage elderly alcoholic Englishman, Selsdon Mowbray, Onstage he’s an old Cockney burglar who climbs through a removable window with remarkable agility. Noises Off is produced in three acts, two Onstage and once behind the scenes where hysterical antics are incited by inventive, mischievous, quiet actors. But Webster wanted the acts to evolve without the usual interruption.
The spectacular, rotating two-story set, designed by Dee Blackburn, and constructed by Technical Director Jim Kallo and his crew deserves a Tony Award! Built on a massive rotating base, it allows for acts to change before an astonished audience, instead of the prevailing use of a black-out or curtain drop.
Onstage, an elegant winding staircase leads to a series of doors upstairs that are slammed open and shut (unless the doorknob falls off), by characters who do not know anyone else is around. Behind the scenes Offstage, actors run up and down intertwining staircases, even when trousers have dropped to the ankles, or hop in shoes mysteriously tied to each another.
The powerful, commanding voice of Brandon Samples initially comes from the audience, as the temperamental Director Lloyd Dallas yells at his actors who are rehearsing a play called Nothing On.
Set in the living room of an English manor on an American stage, the Housekeeper prepares to relax and read the news with her plate of sardines, believing she is all alone. But other characters begin to arrive, unbeknownst to each other. And outrageous fun begins. Slamming doors, disappearing luggage, a fleeting dress, misconceptions, endless plates of sardines and best of all, plenty of love triangles!
Andrew Pippin portrays the insecure American actor Garry Lejeune Offstage, who as English real estate agent Roger Onstage, is ready to use the house for a tryst with Vicki, a glamorous, Inland Revenue agent.
Vicki is willing. Portrayed by Tate Clemons, she can’t keep her clothes on and plays most of the three acts in elegant, black, lacy undergarments. She’s gorgeous! Offstage, Tate plays the inexperienced, empty-headed American actress Brooke Ashton.
Owners of the estate are the sensible English couple Phillip and Flavia Brent. Offstage Phillip is insecure American actor Frederick (Freddy) Fellows who easily gets nosebleeds, all played by Justin Thomas. Flavia is delivered by Amanda Pippin whose Offstage character is the cheerful, Belinda Blair, infatuated with Freddy.
The emotional, overworked American stage manager Poppy Norton-Taylor (pregnant by Lloyd) is played by Jenna Tyrell, assisted by an exhausted Timothy Allgood, portrayed by Jack Bruce. Both also are expected to be understudies.
Timing is essential to effectively deliver ongoing nonsensical confusion. I saw Noises Off last Friday, the night after DCPs traditional Thursday opening and the timing didn’t seem to click. It was hard to hear and understand the lines and the audience wasn’t very receptive.
I’m returning to the see the play again this weekend with my visiting grandson who is about to enter college. I’m willing to bet without any delays, the clever, versatile cast will keep the audience in stitches and on time! The cast went on to receive a standing ovation last Saturday night and again, on Sunday afternoon.
Noises Off, written by Michael Frayn, has always been an all-time hoot. The script invites you to laugh really hard, until your belly aches!
Connie Fisher, neé Consuelo Carmona, is a Davidson resident who grew up in Mexico City where she became a journalist and acquired a taste for the theatre. Her preference for work behind the scenes, led to an interest in writing reviews—Yale Rep among her favorite troupes. Connie is the author of Doing it the Right Way, the biography of an Italian hatmaker. Her prose appears with 87 other international writers in The Widows’ Handbook. An active member of Charlotte Writers’ Club North, currently she is writing chapters of memoir and continues to review theatre in the Lake Norman area.