By Michael Frayn
Directed by Frank Peot
Each of the three acts of Noises Off contains a performance of the first act of a play within a play, a sex farce called Nothing On. The three acts of Noises Off are each named "Act One" on the contents page of the script, though they are labeled normally in the body of the script; and the programmed notes for Noises Off will include, provided by the author, a comprehensive programmed for the Weston-super-Mare run of Nothing On, including spoof advertisements (for sardines) and acknowledgements to the providers of mysterious props that do not actually appear (e.g. stethoscope, hospital trolley, and straitjacket). Nothing is seen of the rest of Nothing On.
Nothing On is the type of play in which young girls run about in their underwear, old men drop their trousers, and many doors continually bang open and shut. It is set in "a delightful 16th-century posset mill modernized by the current owners and available to let while they are abroad; the fictional playwright is appropriately named Robin Housemonger.
Act One is set at the technical rehearsal at the (fictional) Grand Theatre in Weston-super-Mare; it is midnight, the night before the first performance and the cast are hopelessly unready. Baffled by entrances and exits, missed cues, missed lines, and bothersome props, including several plates of sardines, they drive Lloyd, their director, into a seething rage and back several times during the run.
Act Two shows a Wednesday matinee performance one month later at the (fictional) Theatre Royal in Ashton-under-Lyne. In this act, the play is seen from backstage, providing a view that emphasizes the deteriorating relationships between the cast. Romantic rivalries, lovers' tiffs, and personal quarrels lead to offstage shenanigans, onstage bedlam, and the occasional attack with a fire axe.
In Act Three, we see a performance near the end of the ten-week run, at the (fictional) Municipal Theatre in Stockton-on-Tees. Relationships between the cast have soured considerably, the set is breaking down, and props are winding up in the wrong hands, on the floor, and in the way. The actors remain determined at all costs to cover up the mounting chaos, but it is not long before the plot has to be abandoned entirely and the more coherent characters are obliged to take a lead in ad-libbing somehow towards some sort of end.
Much of the comedy emerges from the subtle variations in each version as character flaws play off each other off-stage to undermine on-stage performance, with a great deal of slapstick. The contrast between players' on-stage and off-stage personalities is also a source of comic dissonance.
Produced by Sun Prairie Civic Theatre at Cardinal Heights Upper Middle School (The Old High School), 220 Kroncke Drive, Sun Prairie
Performances: February 2-11, 2018
February 2, 3, 9, 10, 2018, @ 7:30 PM February 11, 2018, @ 2:00 PM
Ticket Prices: Adults $16.00, Seniors (55+) $13.00, Students (18 and under) $11.00
Call 608-837-8217 for reservations or more information.
Auditions will be held on the following days:
Auditions begin at 6:30 PM at the SPCT Rehearsal Barn, 550 South Bird Street, Sun Prairie, WI. Persons auditioning should bring a two-minute comedy monologue, either memorized or read. Come dressed to move and do an improv.