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reviewed by Adam Crowe

In a previous review, I have written about the excitement of seeing new or rarely performed plays and musicals. Yet, there is something to be said about the joys of getting to see a new production of an old favorite. I had the distinct pleasure to attend Opening Night at Indiana Repertory Theatre for their production of Michael Frayn’s Noises Off. A play within a play, Noises Off is a comedic love letter (with a bit of jaundiced eye) to the theatre and especially to the art of the Farce.

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From left: Ryan Artzberger, Rob Riley and Robert Neal in a scene from IRT’s production of “Noises Off”.

Slamming doors and misunderstandings abound, as is required in this genre. In this case, it is a farce about the staging of a farce, and therein lies its genius. At the outset, audiences are treated to a rehearsal of a (pretty bad) British farce titled “Nothing On”, as it prepares to go on a long road tour across England. Archetype characters abound: the aging actress, her latest romantic partner, the talentless bimbo who is trysting with the sleazy director, who is the object of the affections of an overlooked assistant stage manager, who is the object of the affection of the over-worked stage manager. Along for the ride is a notoriously drunken actor who may or may not make it onto the stage. Both on and off “stage”, these characters serve their farcical roles while never becoming anything less than delightful.

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From left: Heidi Kettenring, Hollis Resnik, Jerry Richardson and Robert Neal in a scene from IRT’s production of “Noises Off”.

I should confess that I find Frayn’s play to be just about the perfect farce. In three Acts, audiences are treated to scenes from one rehearsal and two performances of the deliciously awful “Nothing On” – and just about everything that could go wrong does. Frayn is a brilliant playwright and his play Copenhagen is an incredible drama. That makes it so much more impressive to me that he also wrote such a ridiculous, fall-down comedy like Noises Off.

IRT’s cast is, not surprisingly, exactly right. Local talents Ryan Artzberger, Ashley Dillard, and Robert Neal are joined by Hollis Resnik, Jerry Richardson, Mehry Eslaminia, Heide Kettenring, Will Allan, and Rob Riley. All were hilarious and gave exacting and inspired performances. Special mention goes to Heide Kettenring, whose third act was the definition of perfection.

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From left: Hollis Resnik, Ryan Artzberger and Jerry Richardson in a scene from IRT’s production of “Noises Off”.

In a play where precision is called for in nearly every aspect, the technical staff is especially important. Their work here is fantastic. Bill Clarke gets top honors for a set that must do some serious performing of its own. Michael Lincoln’s lighting, Todd Reischman’s sound and Michael Jackson’s lighting do exactly what they must – work perfectly while appearing to be shabby and somewhat failing. In addition, Rachel Anne Healy has created beautifully appropriate costumes for the “Nothing On” cast.

If you’ve never seen Noises Off, get those tickets ASAP. If you have seen it, you already know why I love it and I’ll bet you already have your tickets. IRT’s production, brought to hilarious life by this particular cast and crew, will be splitting sides until May 20th. “Nothing On”, only as seen in Noises Off, is a farce for the ages!! Indiana Repertory Theatre is located at 140 West Washington Street. Tickets may be purchased by visiting the website at http://www.irtlive.com or by calling (317) 635-5252.

  • Banner artwork by Kyle Ragsdale
  • Photos by Zach Rosing
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