Noises Off | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Noises Off 

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NOISES OFF, Metropolis Performing Arts Centre. Michael Frayn's three-act comedy depicts a British sex farce, "Nothing On," three times--as a frantic dress rehearsal, a chaotic performance seen from backstage, and a self-destructive presentation late in the run, when the actors are sick of the show and one another. To get things so elaborately wrong, Noises Off requires the sort of coordinated effort NASA might envy: entrances and exits (some scripted, some not), cues, prop placement, pratfalls, and costume changes must be perfectly timed to create this fusion of perpetual motion and musical chairs.

Director Sandy Marshall expertly guides his crackerjack nine-member cast through the play's marathon of dropped plates and lines, slammed doors, disappearing luggage, smashed windowpanes, and flailing axes. All the actors are perfect for their parts, but Paul Grondy as the harried director does a terrific slow burn and Lauren Creel is a stitch as an airheaded actress with no ability to improvise. It's confusing, however, to transform the ensemble into Americans touring Arlington Heights, Denver, and Branson, Missouri: the switch doesn't jibe with Frayn's very English text, and the offstage accents vary peculiarly.

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