Taking a break from the yearly tradition of fall musicals, the drama department has brought a British comedy to the stage, featuring a smaller cast, more laughs, and several plates of sardines. Noises Off gives an insight to what really happens backstage–or rather, what happens when you gather a group of inexperienced actors and expect them to put on a good show.
As the curtain rises, the audience is set up to believe they’re watching Noises Off, when they’re really watching Nothing On, the play within this play. It’s directed by Lloyd Dallas (Owen Dee), whose patience is tried as he deals with dumb blonde Brooke Ashton (Lauren Schmidt), the drunken mess that is Selsdon Mobray (Isaac Figueroa), and many more catastrophes to come.
In Act One we witness the dress rehearsal, in which we learn the basic qualities of each character. Immediately the audience will know what they’re to expect from the show, as Mrs. Clackett (actress Dotty Otley, played by Sarah Whiting) just can’t figure out where to put her plate of sardines, Roger (Garry Lejeune, played by Nicholas Petrucelli) can’t finish his lines, and Philip (Frederick Fellowes, played by Jon-Paul Schaut) has a difficult time following the flow of the story.
“The play is very hectic backstage and there’s a lot going on,” said senior Christina Layton, who plays Poppy Norton-Taylor, the assistant stage manager for Nothing On. “In real life it’s not like that.” Noises Off, of course, exaggerates the severity of each situation, but it’s what makes for a hilarious show.
During the second act the set is revolved so we are now backstage, watching the actors during a matinee performance. Characters are bustling in and out of doors, acting onstage and then running backstage for a different set of drama that includes an array of “cheating” and fits of rage. Though it was sometimes hard to follow who was supposed to be with who, it was quite amusing to watch characters chase each other with axes and bottles of wine.
“There’s more energy in this show than the shows we’ve done in the past years,” said junior Isaac Figueroa (Selsdon). “It’s very comedic and over exaggerated.” Apart from adopting British accents, drama students also had to learn stage combat, which plays a large part in this production.
The third act brings about the chaotic finale to the play: nobody is in their places, nobody knows where to place the props, and nobody remembers their lines. Pants fall, Philip faints, and Brooke can’t seem to stop losing her contact lenses. It wraps up as Selsdon (the burglar) spits out the last bits of his lines–the wrong ones, of course–and brings about the end of Nothing On, and of Noises Off as well.
Noises Off is a mess–but a good mess. Ironically enough, if somehow things went wrong during this play, the audience wouldn’t have noticed because things were supposed to be going wrong. “Doors and sardines,” said director Lloyd Dallas during the play. “That’s what it’s all about.” And it rings true; it’s all about that darned plate of fish.
The drama department is planning to perform Wolf Child in December, and will take on Rent with Gaither High School next spring. Drama has enjoyed much success in previous years, and this year has won 19 superior titles at IE’s, 10 of which were straight superiors. Despite the seniors that left this past year, they’re still moving forward.
“Every single year it’s different,” said Layton. “Each class that graduated always brought something different to the table and it’s such a different variety now.” Drama hopes to continue their success with this new set of students, and is well on their way after their performance in Noises Off. I recommend students and teachers alike see the show, if only to get a good laugh out of the talented and comical acts of the Steinbrenner drama department.
Nataly Capote/A&E Editor