Theater review: Riotous Humor Ensues in BRT’s ‘Noises Off’

Noises Off 5Dubbed “the funniest comedy ever written” by The New York Post, Michael Frayn’s Noises Off showcases crazy antics and hilarity. And as directed by Corbin Green, Boiler Room Theatre’s cast and crew bring their A-game to the fast-paced show.

Noises Off revolves around life in the theater, complete with actors’ egos and cast love triangles. A play-within-a-play, the show chronicles the doomed production of Nothing On. As its cast struggles to open the show, we get a first-hand view of theatrical mishaps.

Noises Off 3Each BRT cast member plays two roles—their actor persona and their Nothing On character. The versatility of the cast emphasizes “the show must go on” mentality: Despite forgotten lines, romantic drama, and a highly temperamental director, the Nothing On cast will do whatever it takes to perform. In Noises Off, each act becomes more ridiculous, and without missing a beat, the BRT cast relays that silliness with ever increasing energy throughout the show.

BRT’s dynamic actors (aided by the designers’ work that’s noted later in this review) drive the success of this production. The play calls for a critical sense of comic timing and physical buffoonery – no small feat! However, BRT’s ensemble carries it off from beginning to end. Patrick Kramer, in the role of Lloyd Dallas, plays the demanding director for Nothing On as an artist on the verge of a nervous breakdown. With his show quickly falling apart, Kramer acts with intensity befitting a temperamental director.

Noises Off 11Not only must Kramer’s Dallas deal with forgotten lines, he must also deal with the cast’s personality quirks. Matt Baugher, as Nothing On’s Frederick Fellowes, comically plays the sensitive cast member who can’t keep from getting a nosebleed when confronted with backstage drama. Dan Zeigler, as Selsdon Mowbray, delivers a great performance as a fading actor who must be constantly monitored since he might otherwise be off enjoying a few too many drinks. Laura Crockarell gives a convincing portrayal of the stubbornly positive Belinda Blair, weaving high-strung optimism with moments of losing her cool. The rest of the cast – including Wesley Paine, Flynt Foster, Britt Byrd, Taylor Green and Josh Lowery – rounds out an ensemble that gives us a hilarious, frenetic-paced show.

Now to the designers – one of the show’s highlights is Anthony Popolo’s stage design.  Using a mobile set, Popolo’s design is reversible; the crew quickly transforms the stage at intermission. The front side of the set is the two-story Victorian country home that serves as the backdrop for Nothing On; the reverse shows backstage as drama breaks out among the unlucky play’s cast. With the BRT crew working very efficiently the reversible set is a great feature.

Noises Off 1The costume and sound designers add to the frantic pace of the show, and between acts, songs such as “There’s No Business like Show Business” and “The Flight of the Bumble Bee” remind the audience of the actors’ relentless attempts to perform Nothing On amid drama and mass confusion. Likewise, Katie Delaney’s costume designs allow for multiple wardrobe malfunctions, especially as the cast scurries around backstage during the second act.  The malfunctions are comic without being overdone.

Boiler Room Theatre’s current production does credit to Frayn’s farce. Under Green’s direction the cast and crew put on a great performance – from set design and costume mishaps to comic timing, Noises Off keeps its audience entertained.

Noises Off 7Boiler Room Theatre’s production of Noises Off continues through March 9 at BRT’s historic facility (230 Franklin Rd., Bldg. 6). Performances are at 8 p.m. Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays with a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. on Feb. 24 and one Thrifty Thursday show at 8 p.m. on March 7. Tickets are $27 for adults, $25 for seniors (age 60 and up) and students (age 13 through college with valid ID) as well as $21 for children ages 3 through 12. Matinee prices are $2 less respectively. All Tuesday shows are two-for-one ($27 for two tickets; no other discounts apply). Thrifty Thursdays allow guests to beat the weekend crowds and grab tickets at the bargain price of $17. Tickets may be purchased by calling the Boiler Room Theatre at (615) 794-7744 or online at Note: This show contains mature content and is not suitable for all ages.

Noises Off 9*Photos by Rick Malkin courtesy Rick Malkin Photography and Boiler Room Theatre. Note: These images were made at a dress rehearsal before set painting was completed.

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About Maranda Orrell

Maranda Orrell is a senior at Vanderbilt University pursuing a degree in History with a minor in Music. She also participates in student organizations, focusing on goals ranging from improving childhood literacy to honoring academic achievement. Maranda hopes to complete her Nashville bucket list and enjoy many of the arts and entertainment sites the city has to offer before she graduates.