(Photo credit: Mike Brown)
Written by Patrick Chavis
A British farce is a particular type of comedic play that originated in England. It often centers around an improbable situation causing chaos and distress for the zany characters involved. I’ve always seen it like a cartoon on stage. Under the careful direction of Kathy Paladino & David Rodriguez, the Costa Mesa Playhouse puts on a hilarious and well-executed physical comedy. Costa Mesa’s production of Noises Off is a strong rendition of this modern meta-theatrical farce.
Farces have a bad reputation in some circles as a type of crude humor, which is not inaccurate. But to cast out a whole sub-genre that’s persisted for so long in the theatre would be a terrible mistake. Serious plays and some comedies take a deeper look at humanity and what makes us tick, but farces provide an opportunity to laugh at ourselves — something we all need to do once in a while.
Noises Off is a farcical play about a theatre company putting on a farce called Nothing On. The play is so meta you get a playbill from Nothin On inside your playbill for Noises Off. The show is in three acts, and we witness the play in three different ways: the rehearsal, backstage while they perform the show, and the full performance for a live audience.
Micheal Frayn has taken all the fun parts about a farce and pumped up the volume to 11. It is a fast-paced, energetic lunacy. However, thanks to the clear story structure, even at its craziest, it all makes sense. The three-act structure also provides enough time to prepare the set for each new interpretation.
This show is a balancing act of many elements happening simultaneously. I realized the brilliance of the direction during the play’s second act. The actors are primarily quiet because they’re backstage, preparing to go on. The comedy comes out in the actors’ physical acting, and the sounds on and off the stage add a comedic punch. The physical acting was a genuine standout part of this show, and I’ll return to that later.
The atmosphere of the set by Antonio Beach, the set designer, and the lighting design by Kaitlyn Campbell are some of the best set work I’ve seen at this theatre. It’s a beautifully constructed living room set with plenty of doors and dark magenta lighting throughout the show. The set was solidly put together and had great detail that helped tell the story better — the breakable glass used for the robber to break into the house and the light and shadow behind the window panes.
The cast features many long-time OC theatre veteran actors I’ve seen in separate productions: Stephanie Noel Garrison, Jaycob Hunter, Sarah McGuire, and Hailey Tweter. All of them brought their A-game to the performance.
Jaycob Hunter is lively and delivers a tremendous comedic performance. As I mentioned before, I’m a big fan of the physical acting in this show. His comedic falls and energy won over the audience at the performance I attended.
Micheal Keeney plays the angry British director to a fault. I picked up Gordan Ramsey vibes from his performance.
I loved it. Take notes. This is how you put on a good farce.
July 8 – 31,2022
Exceptional Show! OCR Recommended!
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