Sunday, February 7, 2016

Noises Off ****

Roundabout Theatre Company’s revival of Michael Frayn’s classic 1982 farce has a lot going for it. The cast of nine populating a second-rate traveling theatrical company is uniformly strong. Andrea Martin is a delight as the well-named Dotty Otley, an actress near the end of her career beset by the difficulty of remembering stage business. Campbell Scott is just right as the smarmy, condescending director Lloyd Dallas, who is carrying on two simultaneous affairs. David Furr is delightful as the vapid Garry who seems unable to complete a sentence. Megan Hilty is perfection as the curvaceous bimbo whose acting skills are limited. Tracee Chimo, as assistant stage manager Poppy Norton-Taylor, is good, but doesn’t really get the chance to show her mettle to the extent that other recent roles have offered. Kate Jennings Grant, as Belinda Blair, the company gossip, is fine as the sanest person on the stage. Jeremy Shamos, who for good reason is rarely unemployed, is hilarious as the nervous wreck Frederick Fellowes who needs to know the motivation for every line. Rob McClure as the high-strung company and stage manager Tim Allgood brings trembling to a new level. Daniel Davis is a hoot as Selsdon Mowbray, whose appearance onstage requires keeping him away from the bottle. Set designer Derek McLane captures the look of a Tudor-style country modernized for the taste of the 1970’s. Michael Krass’s costumes present some of the excesses of that decade with wicked fun. We get to see the first act of “Nothing On,” the ridiculous bedroom farce the company is presenting, three times, with escalating chaos. The first is at the late-night dress rehearsal. The second, a month later, is seen from backstage, where the manic off-stage cast and crew are acting out their own wordless scene. The final time is from the point of view of the audience near the end of the play’s tour. Director Jeremy Herrin keeps everything running like clockwork. Lorenzo Pisoni deserves special mention for his fine work as comedy stunt coordinator. An added treat is tucked into the Playbill -- Frayn's amusing program book for "Nothing On." If the play has a flaw, it is its length. Can there be too much of a good thing? Two hours twenty five minutes seemed a bit too long for something so slight.

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