Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

June 18, 2010

Noises Off

New Century Theatre, Northampton, MA
through June 27, 2010
by Eric Johnson

Sardines. It's all about the sardines. Well, not really. What Michael Frayn's "Noises Off" is about is love, jealousy, anger, weakness, etc. Sounds like a drama, doesn't it? This play is a comedy about drama, the drama that inevitably occurs when offstage romance blossoms.

New Century Theatre (NCT0 is celebrating their 20th anniversary this year, and the entire season is comprised of audience favorites from the past. Director Sam Rush has assembled a wonderfully talented and experienced cast to take on this production, most of whom are reprising roles from the 2000 season production.

In an ensemble cast, Sara Whitcomb, Phil Kilbourne, Patrick Tango, Lisa Abend, Molly Haas-Hooven, Buzz Roddy, Cate Damon, James Emery and Steve Brady all give spectacular performances in this extremely demanding show. At times the pacing of the play is insanely fast and furious, and this group of actors manages to pull it off without missing a beat. All of the ingredients of a typical British farce are present here - slamming doors, various states of undress, split-second timing, all deftly executed by this cast. Add to this, the actors are playing actors who then have to play characters and it becomes clear just how challenging this show is.

Daniel D. Rist once again creates a lavish set and complementary lighting design that draws appreciative "oohs" and "aahs," and applause from the audience when revealed.

Congratulations to the NCT patrons for picking a marvelous show to kick off the 20th season, and kudos to Sam Rush for his precise direction of what could be a very unwieldy piece in less capable hands.

This reviewer is pretty certain it will be awhile before he can say, or even think of the word 'sardines' without cracking a smile or chuckling to himself.