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Joyful Noise Too

NO340ThumbnailIn what is becoming an annual tradition, Glendale’s venerable classics-focused A Noise Within company is offering its third staging of Michael Frayn’s ribald backstage farce, “Noises Off,” which works like gangbusters in ANW’s spacious and lovely new Pasadena facility. This boisterously hilarious play requires top-notch direction and acting to pull off its endless stream of slapstick sequences, requiring flawless comedy timing and great physical dexterity.

My first experience viewing this ANW repertory staple gave me a renewed appreciation for this veteran L.A. troupe, which has time and again mastered all sorts of plays from Shakespeare to Moliere, from O’Neill to Wilder. Knockabout farce is essentially a whole discipline of its own, and it’s an unabashed pleasure to watch the company’s sublime actors let down their hair with this zanily satisfying piece, creating comical magic on Adam Lillibridge’s amazing two-sided set, which is beautifully detailed and expertly designed to handle the demands of this unique show-within-a-show, which gives us the calamitous saga of a trouble-plagued stage production filled with loony characters—viewing it from both a backstage and onstage perspective.

SoCal Stages_blogIt’s hard to pick favorites in the beautifully calibrated ensemble, though Deborah Strang’s (pictured) wacky thespian would be near the top of the list. This cue-challenged performer, appearing as a Cockney maid, apparently washed her brain and can’t do a thing with it, as she desperately tries in vain to correctly do her business and deliver her lines. ANW artistic co-director Geoff Elliott is also a hoot as the libidinous director of the fictional play, carrying on with a ditsy blonde starlet (the terrific Emily Kosloski). The seven other ensemble members are likewise top-notch.

Do yourself a favor and catch this terrifically entertaining bon-bon before it concludes its brief run on Jan. 15.

--Les Spindle

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