By Lara Murray
It has arrived! Oneonta’s Theatre Department returned with a new play since it’s successful release of “The Revolutionists” back in early October. Once again, the theatre was packed with anticipated audience members waiting to see what this new story was about. With it’s unique poster and title, it makes plenty of sense why we were so curious!
“Noises Off”, a play written by Michael Frayn, surrounds a play within a play called “Nothing On” being produced and how it faces difficulties from its cast. It’s a comedy about the ups and downs of what goes on behind the scenes of a play. Michael Frayn’s inspiration came from watching the play “The Two of Us”, a farce he wrote for British American actress Lynn Redgrave. Frayn recalls it being more enjoyable from behind than in the front. Unlike the previous play, “Noises Off” had three acts in three fictional locations and tells three sides of the story. The first act opens on stage during a technical rehearsal at the Grand Theatre in Oxford, California. It’s the night before their first performance and things are going horribly wrong. Cast members are forgetting their lines, cues, props, entrances, and exits leading into one big mess. The impatient director tries to point the play in the right direction again, all while receiving gossip from cast member Belinda about a secret romance in the cast. The second act takes place a month later during a matinee performance at the City Rep Theatre in Beaverton, Oregon. This time it takes place behind the scenes, which by the audience’s reaction, was the best part of the show. Without ever speaking, the act unfolds the deteriorating relationships between the cast members and the director’s love triangle. The final act is during the closing performance at the Municipal Theatre in Missoula, Montana where, at this point, the play has hit rock bottom.
The play also demonstrates co-star feuds on the set of a production. How a simple mistake or misunderstanding can affect the performance and people around them. In the first act, we see the build-up of frustration within other cast members while a secret romance between co-stars Dotty and Garry is revealed. And get this, Dotty is old enough to be Garry’s grandmother! In the second act, the romance and relationships have fallen apart after Dotty develops an attraction for another cast member, Frederick. Garry hasn’t taken the break up well and takes every opportunity during the play to sabotage Frederick’s performance, all while the director is stuck having to choose between co-star Brooke and his Assistant Manager, Poppy.
Michael Frayn brings to light that nothing is ever perfect. Whether it’s a production or a relationship, we’re bound to have a problem. We all have struggles on and off the stage.
Audience members laughed, cheered, and even related to the character’s action. Frayn’s play leaves the audience to walk away reflecting on their own actions and how they see certain situations. Oneonta has done it again!