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Noises Off: Fast Moving Farce Brings Laughter to PCA
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14 June 2017  

It’s a play within a play, looking at the actors from the inside out. 

Now playing at the PCA MainStage is Noises Off, a 1982 play by British playwright Michael Frayn. One day while watching a performance of a farce from the wings he found that the backstage action was as funny as he play. He decided to write Noises Off. It became one of the most enduring of modern comedies.

Each act of the play is based on Act I of the fictitious farce Nothing On. The first act of Noises Off is set on the stage of the Grand Theatre in Weston-super-Mare. A group of actors has been hastily assembled for a 12 week tour. 

In Act I they struggle through a grueling dress rehearsal which doesn’t even begin until midnight on the day before the first performance. We get to know the characters, both as actors, and as the characters they portray in the play within a play.

Act two brings the play to the mid point of the tour. This act is hilariously  shown from behind the scenes. The set is literally turned around. By now the cast is getting frazzled. New alliances and misalliances have formed.One of the funniest and most amazing pieces of stage “business” occurs during this act, when objects ranging from bouquets of flowers to bottles of whisky pass from person to person and place to place while the actors seem to be concentrating on other actions. When asked how long it took to perfect this juggling act, Marissa Ellis (Dotty/Mrs Clackett said,”Two months, three or flour rehearsals a week. William Larson (Garry/Roger) mentioned that a fight choreographer from Phoenix had helped co-ordinate the stunts. Act three shows the exhausted actors attempting to keep things going through the last performance of the tour. By this time everything that can go wrong is going wrong. 

It is hard to single out any one actor for praise in this show. It is decidedly an ensemble effort. Each actor had shining moments, and also performed nobly as a foil for others' high points.

One aspect of this production which deserves special notice is the set. The designers and builders constructed a two story piece, with at least 10 operating (or on occasion not operating) doors and windows. It can be wheeled around on stage, It has two stairways which must  be able to support actors constantly running up and down. And it looks great from the front, and appropriately unfinished and shabby from the back. 

Noises Off, Prescott Center for the Arts

As you can imagine, the doors get quite a workout in this fast paced farce. Not to mention the sardines.

Frank Malle, who plays the Selsdon/Burglar probably sums up Noises Off best, “If laughter is indeed the best medicine, then get ready for a hilariously heavy dose.”

Noises Off will be on stage for one more week. 

If you go: 

What: "Noises Off” - a farcical play about theater

Where: Prescott Center for the Arts, Main Stage

Address: 208 N. Marina Street, Prescott, AZ 86301

Remaining Performances 

Thursday, June 15: 7:30 PM $22

Friday June 16:   7:30 PM $22

Saturday, June 17:  2:00 PM matinee $19

Saturday, June 17:  7:30 PM $22

Sunday, June 18: 2 PM matinee $19

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