Friday, November 01, 1996

ACT Presents Noises Off

Gail Moore’s review of Noises Off from the Buzz

December 1996—ACT (a community theatre) recently staged the British comedy Noises Off, written by Michael Frayn, at the Carrefour de I’isle-Saint-Jean. Directed by David Sherren, the play featured the talented cast of Barbara Rhodenhizer, Ben Kinder, Tim Mosse, Jennifer Long, Kim Gillis, Ed Rashed, Sara Fraser, Greg Stapleton and Gerry Gray. Each cast member faced the difficult task of playing two roles in this piece about a British acting troupe performing a play called Nothing On.

The first act presented the final dress rehearsal of Nothing On. It seemed to move slowly due to “God’s” interruptions - “God” being Nothing On’s director Lloyd Dallas (played superbly by Ben Kinder). This act became a point of reference for the audience; it was the only time we saw the play performed as written.

Gossip-hound Belinda Blair (Sara Fraser)briefed us on the relationships within the troupe; the relationships later contributed to the comedy and mayhem in the remaining two acts.

Act Two takes place about a month later at a matinee performance of Nothing On. The specially designed, revolving stage took the action backstage. We were treated to the confusion which followed the break-up of Dotty Otley and Garry Lejeune (Barbara Rhodenhizer and Tim Mosse in a neat gender-reversal of the usual May-September romance). The troupe members switched their sexual partners and friendly affiliations with such speed and indiscrimination that it soon appeared that each had it in for the others. It added up to some enjoyable slapstick and pantomime. A hilarious running theme was the troupe’s attempt to keep Gerry Gray (Selsdon Mowbray / Burglar) away from the bottle of whiskey.

The final act takes place nearly two months after the confusion of the second act. The troupe seemed near a collective nervous breakdown as it ran through the umpteenth performance of the first act of Nothing On. By now we were able to see the mistakes. Dotty Otley’s fixation on her plates of sardines was killingly funny. The mix-ups stemming from the oft-disappearing Selsdon resulted in three burglars on stage. The act-stealers, however, were Greg Stapleton in an “accidental” appearance at the curtain’s rise and Ed Rashed’s character’s coddled flakiness. I don’t think I’ve seen an audience enjoy a production more.

Noises Off was held over for two performances. It was highly enjoyable and it’s nice to see community theatre making such a big hit on the Island.

ACT’s future production Child’s Garden of Verses in late December and HMS Pinafore in late spring. Watch the Buzz for info or call ACT at 569-5633.

- Gail Moore

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