Windy City Playhouse Presents NOISES OFF Review –Farce and More Farce

Windy City Playhouse NOISES OFF

It just might be the funniest play you will EVER see…

SPOILER ALERT: FOR THE OPTIMAL EXPERIENCE OF THIS PLAY STOP READING THIS REVIEW RIGHT HERE!!! IT’S ONE LONG LAUGH AND LIKELY MOST FUN FOR THOSE WHO WALK IN BLIND AND ARE SURPRISED.

Windy City Playhouse NOISES OFF
(left to right) Amy J. Carle, Rochelle Therrien, and Ryan McBride
Windy City Playhouse NOISES OFF
(left to right) Ryan McBride, Rochelle Therrien, Amy J. Carle

There aren’t many props that the actress playing the maid (Amy J. Carles as Dotty Otley) has to keep track of – sardines, a newspaper, the telly (television), and the phone—but as she mutters in her confusion we become aware that this is a play within a play. More, it’s both the technical run through and the dress rehearsal for a traveling play that is about to open in just hours.

It’s not just Otley. Just about everyone in this play’s cast hasn’t quite wrapped their head around their part or their entrances and exits through the many door set. The voice of the director (Mike Tepeli as Lloyd Dallas) over a mic and from afar cajoles them to restart again and again. Unlike God who had seven days to create the world, he just has hours. But when asked how it feels to be God and with such a burden he explains, to paraphrase, that God feels fine because he just took a valium.

This writer imagines that playwright Michael Frayn threw that one line in to show his British sardonic-wielding pedigree. Unlike this moment of wry, most of the non-stop gags in Noises Off are far less heady and more slapstick pile-on. This isn’t a plot as much as snowballing situations that lets the good times roll—from behind the scenes lovers quarrels and jealous rages, the ability of a slippery sardine to do what a banana usually does, politically incorrect jokes about being hard of hearing, hiding the bottle from recovering alcoholic, and more. It’s one long glide into funny and funnier still, greased by exquisite comedic timing that feels like microsecond precision to hide the bottle from the recovering alcoholic, fall down stairs, and have one after another wardrobe malfunction.

You hardly have a chance to finish your guffaw at one comic pratfall when another grabs the spotlight. It takes but a second to love the scantily clad actress who can’t act (Rochelle Therrien as Brooke Ashton). You love her all the more when she blinks in blindness as her fellow cast members unleash high stepping slow motion goose steps to avoid crushing her lost contact lenses. Probably all Will Casey has to do as recovering alcholic Selsdon Mowbray is show up in his burglar costume but he DOES make it funnier still. Actually, in this writer’s view they are ALL superb.

Windy City Playhouse Builds Highly Successful Immersive Theater Niche

Anyone who has seen Noises Off and Southern Gothic by Windy City Playhouse is likely similarly hoping that they keep on doing non-traditional and interactive set design as staging as a formula. In this play we get to go behind the set of the play within a play with the actors in its short Act II. It’s difficult to imagine how Jeffrey D Kmiec’s set design could get any better.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO, where it will remain until the end of the run. Click here to read – Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves.

Cast:  Erica Bitner, Amy Carle, Will Casey, Scott Duff, Ryan McBride, Alexander Quinones, Amy Rubenstein, Mike Tepeli, Rochelle Thieren

Playwright:  Michael Frayn

Director:  Scott Weinstein

Set Design: Jeffrey D. Kmiec

Costumes: Jessica Keuhnua

Lighting: Mike Durst

Sound Design: Brandon Reed

 

When:

Thru March 31

Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.
Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.
Sundays at 3 p.m.

Where:

Windy City Playhouse
3014 West Irving Park Road
Chicago

Tickets:

$45

For tickets visit the Windy City Playhouse website

When:

Thru May 12

Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.
Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.
Sundays at 3 p.m.

Where:

Windy City Playhouse
3014 West Irving Park Road
Chicago

 

Tickets:

$45

For tickets visit the Windy City Playhouse website

 

Photos: Michael Brosilow

Note: An excerpt of this review appears in Theater in Chicago

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