“Noises Off!” began seemingly as any other play. The lovable housekeeper Dotty Otley (Donna Hester) enters the wood walled London living room and begins a monologue while on the telephone. Her thick British accent rambles until she seems to have forgotten her line.
From this point on, the play never even approached normal. The audience watched a group of horribly unprepared actors doing a last-minute rehearsal for the traveling play, “Nothing On!”.
Director of the play within the play, Lloyd Dallas (Jeremy Varner), interrupts from the audience. He begins to walk down the steps to the stage as he reminds Otley of her line.
For the rest of the act, the cast members manage to frustrate their director in countless ways.
Gary Lejeune (Blake Roger) constantly interrupts the director with critiques before falling short of words and resorting to hand gestures. Jaimie Patterson played Brooke Ashton, who’s narcissism continually distracts the blonde from practice as she checks her make up in the mirror.
The stage managers, an overworked Tim Allgood (Michael Siemek) and the endlessly teased Poppy Norton-Taylor (Katie Bendel) spend Act I following orders from the clearly stressed directors. Aside from fixing the set and organizing the scattered cast, they must also chase down the old and boozed Selsdon Mowbry (Adam Hester) who spends most of the play with a bottle in his hand (or trying to get one) and is praised when he remembers lines or finally manages to be on time.
The easily queasy Frederick Fellows (Caleb Robinson) and sensible Belinda Blair (Lindsey Rogers) may be the only two grounded members of the cast.
The way the characters handle the already funny production of “Nothing On!” would be enough to merit laughter from the crowd, but a rotating stage allowed Act II to reveal an even more absurd events backstage.
While still hearing the performance of “Nothing On!” the audience was brought to near tears by the silent backstage nonsense the characters created while putting on the play.
With characters perpetually entering and exiting the eight doors on set, the organization required to portray so perfectly the disorganized performance was incredible.
Act III brought the audience back to front stage to see the performance as it slowly fell apart. The cast improvises in a desperate attempt to save the disintegrating production.
“Noises Off!” was full of nosebleeds, hilariously misplaced props, manic costume changes, love triangles, lost contacts and mere misunderstandings which the actors brought together with perfect believability. Having beautifully performed a comedy train wreck, ACU’s superb cast was able to keep the audience in stitches for the whole of the exhaustingly funny comedy.