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October 1, 2013 > Theatre Review: Double farce ends Curtain Call season on a high note

Theatre Review: Double farce ends Curtain Call season on a high note

By Julie Grabowski

What does it take to produce a successful play? Some would say mature actors, a smart and capable director, a solid story, the ability to hit cues, and connect with the audience. But in ÒNoises Off,Ó alcohol, sardines, nose bleeds, death threats, an axe, and falling trousers work just fine!

A farce within a farce, Michael FraynÕs ÒNoises OffÓ follows the life of a play and its players from a frustrated late-night tech rehearsal to backstage antics during a mid-week matinee to the final, desperate performance at the end of the run. Curtain Call Performing Arts closes their 2012/2013 season with an ambitious and memorably hilarious hit.

ÒWords, doors, bags, boxes, sardines, us!Ó fumes actor Garry during a rehearsal for the farce ÒNothing On.Ó The ill-prepared cast is hours away from their opening night and are struggling with their props and performances. With hints of inter-cast romances and impending doom for the play, ÒNoises OffÓ falls into rapid decline, which is when all the fun begins.

The second act opens with Ògreat dramas in the dressing roomÓ as personal issues have begun to infiltrate the show and compromise everyone involved. The chaos behind the scenes as the cast strives to pull off the show is a full-body workout with no nerves spared. Running, climbing, hopping, flower flinging, and axe swinging are just some of the cardio happening backstage in a scene that showcases the actors at their finest.

By the third act, the play has reached the end of its tour and the cast is in tatters, desperately trying to make it through the final show with horrific mishaps and mistakes at every turn. But no amount of effort and improvisation can repair the damage and the unintelligible nightmare must end.

Director Erik Scanlon makes well-orchestrated music of the madness and deftly steers a great ensemble cast comprised of Kim Doppe (Dotty), Kendall Tieck (Lloyd), Josh Milbourne (Garry), Lauren Rosi (Brooke), Caroline Schneider (Poppy), Justin DuPuis (Frederick), Anne Milbourne (Belinda), Lavale-William Davis (Tim), and Bruce Kaplan (Selsdon). An unarguably challenging play for actors, the Curtain Call crew hits all their marks and pulls off the ongoing shenanigans with great energy, skill, and compatibility.

With everyone so intertwined and all getting their fair share of the humorous action itÕs difficult to pull standouts. However, Lauren Rosi as the contact losing, over-acting Brooke always draws the eye, and not because she spends most of the show in her underwear. RosiÕs expressions and undeterred mannerisms when acting as Vicky are priceless. Justin DuPuis can work nose bleeds and trouser troubles to great comic effect as Frederick as well as generate a sympathetic and endearing vibe, and Josh Milbourne handles his verbal and physical workout as Garry with skill and confidence. And you have to give a hand to all those plates of sardines (no animals were harmed in the making of this play).

The wheeled set is a clever design by Mark Mendelson, which allows the living room setting to fold up, spin around, and open again so viewers experience both the front and back of the stage set. Kudos go to the rest of the artistic and production team for making ÒNoises OffÓ a well-oil machine of disaster.

Of his visit to the theatre character Lloyd says, ÒIÕve come to be taken out of myself and preferably not put back again.Ó While not much can be done about the putting back part, ÒNoises OffÓ will definitely take your feet off the ground for a while and shoot you into a realm of completely audacious absurdity.

Noises Off
Friday, Sept 27 - Saturday, Oct 26
8 p.m. (Sundays at 2 p.m.)
Curtain Call Performing Arts Theatre
999 E. 14th St., San Leandro
(510) 909-9516
Tickets: $25Êadults, $22 student/senior

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