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The Belfry Theatre continues it’s 50th anniversary season with a production of Michael Frayn’s very British comic play: Noises Off. As with the rest of the commemorative season, this show is a previously presented offering; it was done here in 1986, directed by Steve Free. The current production is directed by Ron Richards, who had a role in the 1986 version.

Noises Off is a typically broad-humoured (sic) British farce, full of wacky characters, zany situations, extravagant horseplay, and sardines. Presented in three acts, (consisting of a final rehearsal, a backstage view of a mid-run performance and a late-run onstage presentation) we are shown portions of the rather unfortunate run of “Nothing On”, which has been cast with a variously incompetent group of actors and actresses. There is veteran actress Dotty Otley (played by Susan Reardon) who is plagued with forgetfulness; put-upon director Lloyd Dallas (Kelly Keller); a puzzling (puzzled?) actor named Garry Lejeune (Zachariah Buzan); inexperienced ingénue Brooke Ashton (Addison D. Ahrendts); sensitive assistant stage manager Poppy Norton-Taylor (Katie Beckstrom); rather dim-witted and nasally delicate actor Frederick Fellowes (John Parks Whitaker); the cheerful, least encumbered actress Belinda Blair (Brenna Campbell); over-worked stage manager Tim Allgood (Tim Long); and the elder statesman of the group – tippler Selsdon Mowbray (Duane Leatherman).

Director Richards does an exemplary job managing this troubled crew through a web-like set of situations and movements, especially in the extraordinary second act, which presents a back of the set view of the play’s goings on. By this time, the story is a tangle of love triangles, jealousies and physical comeuppances. The entire troupe shines in this display of nearly silent acting chores. It is great fun to see this unusual combination of pantomime and slapstick.

Overall, the cast does a fine job with a truly difficult endeavor. It is evident that this show required a lot of precision from all involved and this was indeed well accomplished. The compliment extends to the remarkable set change crew whose precise work during the act breaks, as they twice turn the well-designed set (by Terry Prentkowski) 180 degrees, is a marvel.

Bottom-line: although British humor, with it’s reliance on irony and a rather dry quality, is not my cup of tea these days – I thought the amazing work of the cast (and their director) is so impressive as to carry me past the farcical plot and it’s nonsensical effect. I had a great time watching the proceedings. Kudos to all involved!

Noises Off continues at The Belfry for two more weekends, with performances scheduled for April 10,11,12,17,18 & 19. Friday and Saturday shows are at 8 pm, while Sunday matinees begin at 2 pm. You can find out more about the show and reservations by going to http://www.belfrytheatre.com or by calling 317.773.1085.

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