‘Noises Off’ at Delray Beach Playhouse Brings the Laughs
In what might be one of the most hilariously chaotic plays I’ve ever seen in my life, a zany rendition of Noises Off is currently on at Delray Beach Playhouse until May 14. The slapstick kind of comedy is exactly what I didn’t know I needed when I caught the opening night’s performance, and you might need it, too. Just laugh.
The pre-performance set the tone for the characters’ abilities to walk in and out the audience’s focus. While the director of the play, Jeremy Quinn, did a normal pre-show speech about exit signs, cellphones, and obligatory thank-yous, a pair of “stage hands” wandered on to the stage near him and grabbed a stray mop bucket. Quinn looked at them as they exited and uttered, “It’s hard to find good help these days.” And with that, the show began.
A woman, mildly incompetent, by the name of Dotty (Beverly Blanchette) kept forgetting her lines during the dress rehearsal of a play. The director, Lloyd (Harry Redlich), entered down the audience aisle and corrected Dotty with a “No, no, no” and “You forgot the sardines!” Throughout this play, the play I am sitting at, in its two and half acts, the same first act of the farce Nothing On, the play within the play.
This concept, the framing of a play within a play, is a fantastic tool to keep the audience engaged in the material. During the first act of Noises Off, the actors are rehearsing, terribly, to the first act of Nothing On, consistently missing cues and creating genuine laughs through confusion. Each actor is subsequently playing two roles: the role in Noises Off and the role in Nothing On. Talent is abundant here.
As an aside, I was particularly impressed with the stage design of this play. It both felt like the scenery of a play and a setting for something larger happening. On one side, we had the pink-hued house of the play Nothing On during the course of the true first act, and then after intermission, the stage flipped, and the second act of Noises Off took place behind the pink-hued set, revealing what the actors were doing backstage during the first act of Nothing On. I know, it’s meta, but it’s kind of brilliant.
The final act of the play felt like improv comedy more than anything. We were brought back to the set of the first act, with the pink-hues facing the crowd once more, and everything purposefully fell apart. Maybe this was from exhaustion coming from the tour, or maybe this was because they had had enough of each other. Regardless, the chaos that stemmed from the breaking of the grain provided a fresh ending.
In short, Noises Off provided a look at the same first act in three different ways, all while making the audience laugh and enjoy the two and half hours they’re there. Also, special shout out to Eric Purcell’s performance of both Frederick and Philip. Almost every time one of his characters had a line, I laughed.
Tickets are still available for Noises Off at Delray Beach Playhouse. Grab them here. Run, don’t walk!