“Noises Off!” Pacifica Spindrift’s Spot-On New Production
Noises Off! It’s been called the funniest comedy ever written, but it takes the hand of a wise director and the clock-work timing of a very talented cast to make Pacifica Spindrift’s new production of Michael Frayn’s play the laugh-out-loud hit of the season.
Veering between vaudeville, slapstick, and satire, this backstage look into play within a play (there are two playbills, one for the Spindrift production of Noises Off! and one for the spurious Nothing On), staged on a stage of the home of a pair of British tax-exiles. The characters of Nothing On include a befuddled housekeeper, a lecherous rental agent with a potential client, a playwright and his wife, a director and his crew. The characters of Noises Off! are the cast of the fictitious play. Confused? Don’t be. Come and see this new production, and all will make complete sense, or nonsense.
The key to the comedy is the seamless flow of rapid-fire verbal exchanges, seasoned with exquisite comedic choreography—remember this: “doors and sardines; getting on, getting off”—elevated to a high art. An ensemble piece like this demands a lot of everyone involved, in equal measure, and the entire cast is up to the task. Even though I know it’s work, they make it look like fun.
The first act sets the stage for what will happen next, and each actor has a chance to shine on stage and oil the gears for everything is to follow. The laughs are genuine and frequent, with well-done physical comedy and witty repartee; the plot thickens as more and more people enter the house, unknown to each other.
The set has two sides, and we get to see them both, in the ingenious constructions of master carpenter Mike Calderaro. The second act set shows us the backstage Nothing On, now in performance on the road and falling apart as we watch. This is where the choreography really shows; you’ll have to go see the play to know what I mean. We the audience loved every minute of it. Take special note of the individual performances going on simultaneously, while the play plays out before us on on the other side of this backstage set.
The third act turns the stage around again, and Nothing On, now as polished as it’s every likely to be, continues into its inevitable dissolution. This production has got to be the funniest thing I’ve ever seen on stage, or anywhere, for that matter. I complimented director Debi Durst after the show, and she of course gave all credit to her cast and crew, who really worked hard to make this show work so well. It was a challenge for all, with the temporary closing of the Spindrift Theater and the subsequent scramble to find rehearsal and this performance space at Serramonte del Rey, 699 Serramonte Blvd., Daly City CA. Everyone—and I mean everyone—in this show gets a rave review for an all-out effort, but my personal favorites are Dominic J. Falletti’s Garry Lejeune and Dianna Collett’s PoppyNorton-Taylor.
This new temporary performance space has plenty of room, and you won’t find a better theater experience anywhere, so come on down to see this run of Noises Off! before it ends September 15.
As for me, I’ll never think of sardines in the same way again.
Box Office: 650-359-8002
Website: Pacifica Spindrift Players
David Hirzel: www.davidhirzel.net