Costa Mesa, CA, USA
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Travel Costa Mesa Blog

Noises Off at the South Coast Repertory

Posted on February 12, 2009 | 9:00am | Travel Costa Mesa

Last night I saw Noises Off at South Coast Repertory.  SCR’s main stage is so small and intimate, so every seat is great.  I was just three rows from the back, yet I still felt so close to the stage and so much apart of the production.

I didn’t know much about the show going into it, aside from it being a comedy about a play within a play.  I was interested to see how this would be handled and executed, as the play-within-a-play notion seemed like it had the potential to be confusing.

(To avoid confusion here, I’ll blatantly make this distinction so that it’ll be more noticeable when I refer to these:  Noises Off is the play the SCR audience is viewing, and Nothing On is the name of the play being put on inside of it.)

To my delight, the premise worked quite well.  In the first act, we (the SCR audience) viewed a dress rehearsal of the show our actors were preparing.  Nothing On, of course, was deliberately silly, and so it, in itself, as well as the expected dilemmas that might rise during any show’s rehearsal — missing castmate, dialogue confusions, prop-placement errors, gossip, etc. — made for through entertainment.

Noises Off was broken into three segments, and at the conclusion of the first, I was quite curious to see how the story would progress, as we’d already basically seen Nothing On in its entirety in act one.  The second act, though, was even more hilarious than the first.  The stage was literally turned around, and this time, we were witnessing the performance of Nothing On from backstage, where the biases of personal dramas prevailed, and physical humor spoke louder than words.

It was such a creative and unique perspective, especially considering we too were watching a play, along with the (imaginary) audience for whom our actors were performing on the front-end of their stage.

For the third and final act, we again were viewing the front-side of the stage for what was introduced as the final episode of Nothing On‘s run.  Only this time, the personal tragedies of its members had only intensified, some had had too much to drink, and everything that could possibly go wrong, does.

By this point, we had an understanding of how things were supposed to unravel within the play, as well as the personalities and trials the actors themselves were enduring, and so this act exposed the dangers of the tragic (albeit farcical) merging of these two.

I would definitely recommend seeing this show if you get a chance.  There was extreme authenticity to the experience: watching a play from frontstage AND backstage and seeing our actors as two characters — actors we were actually watching along with the characters they were subsequently portraying.  Aside from that, the show’s antics were thoroughly entertaining in a distinct and creative way which exceeded my expectations.

Noises Off will be playing through March 8.