Dual Critics Review: “Noises Off” at Players by the Sea

The Beach’s Players by the Sea opened “Noises Off,” a comedy/farce by Michael Frayn on December 7, 2018; the production runs through December 23.  The theatre is located at 106 6th Street North in Atlantic Beach, Florida. For reservations call 904-249-0289 or visit playersbythesea.org.

“Noises Off!” is comedy chaos at Players By the Sea

The play opened on Broadway in 1983 and ran for 553 performances. It was nominated for a Tony as Best Play and in 2016 received a Tony for Best Revival of a Play. It’s been staged in the North Florida area several times over the years and has always been a big hit.

“Noises Off” is a play about an ambitious director and his company of mediocre actors who are staging “Nothing On.” This play within a play is also a farce, a silly sex comedy where lovers romp, lose clothing, and slam doors. Many doors. Higgledy-piggledy embarrassing moments follow. Act One portrays a dress rehearsal of “Nothing On,” Act Two takes place during a matinee performance, and Act Three brings the final performance by the frenzied cast.

The first star of the show is the fabulous set designed and built by multi-talented Set Designer Tom Fallon, who also cast and directed the show. The two-story English country house has all components needed to make this farce a success, including doors which are opened and slammed shut repeatedly. The complete house is turned around (twice) in Act Two, so the audience is viewing the backstage area.

“Noises Off!” is comedy chaos at Players By the Sea

The play begins with a rehearsal which is not going well for Lloyd, the Director (Michael Lipp). He is arrogant, demanding, sarcastic, and has an inflated ego and a wandering eye when it comes to women. Michael is perfect for this role; he is famous for the many plays he has directed on our local stages.

While most of the actors have roles in both plays, we’re going to focus on the action in “Nothing On.” Mrs. Clackett, the housekeeper, keeps forgetting her lines and the items she is supposed to bring on and off stage; plates of sardines are major props here. St. Augustine veteran actress Cathy O’Brien receives a lot of laughs in this demanding role.

Roger (Bryan Matins) is a realtor who shows up at the country house hoping for an afternoon affair with sexy Vicki (Samantha Parsons). A disappointment is in store when she spends most of the scene dressed in a slip looking for her contact lenses.

Flavia (Katie Johnson) is the sensible wife of Phillip (the very funny Christopher Watson), a tax evader who owns the place and is keeping a low profile; he also portrays an actor who is afraid of blood, but unfortunately has frequent nose bleeds.

“Noises Off!” is comedy chaos at Players By the Sea

Additional characters include an unnamed Burglar and Selsdon, an elderly alcoholic; both portrayed by William Collyer. The production staff members for “Nothing On” include Tim (Michael Yarick), an overworked and easily confused Stage Manager, and Poppy (Annabelle Didion) a jittery Assistant Stage Manager who is not as innocent as she seems.

Director Fallon has assembled an outstanding cast from top to bottom. They have to be outstanding; this show, filled with action and stage movement, is demanding.

“Noises Off!” is comedy chaos at Players By the Sea

The costumes by Gayle Featheringill, Connie Rouls, and the cast reflect the play’s British setting.

The third act will have you rolling in the aisles and is one of the funniest we have ever seen. This is a true stage classic and an inside look at the exciting and unforeseeable nature of theater

The Production Team includes Jereme Raickett (Production Manager), Samantha Catone (Lighting Designer), and Chinua Richardson (Sound Designer).

Next up for Players By The Sea (January 25 – February 16, 2019) is the musical version of ‘Bridges of Madison County.” You may have read the book or seen the 1995 film with Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep. This production features a score that has been acclaimed as outstanding music.

About Dick Kerekes & Leisla Sansom

The Dual Critics of EU Jacksonville have been reviewing plays together for the past nine years. Dick Kerekes has been a critic since 1980, starting with The First Coast Entertainer and continuing as the paper morphed into EU Jacksonville. Leisla Sansom wrote reviews from time to time in the early 80s, but was otherwise occupied in the business world. As a writing team, they have attended almost thirty Humana Festivals of New America Plays at Actors Theatre in Louisville, Kentucky, and many of the annual conferences sponsored by the American Theatre Critics Association, which are held in cities throughout the country. They have reviewed plays in Cincinnati, Chicago, Miami, Sarasota, Minneapolis, Orlando, New York, Philadelphia, Sarasota, San Francisco, Shepherdstown, and The Eugene O’Neill Center in Waterford, Massachusetts. They currently review about one hundred plays annually in the North Florida area theaters, which include community, college, university, and professional productions.