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May 25, 2024

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Theater Review: Noises Off

Nashville Rep ranks high on the funny factor with Michael Frayn's brilliant theatrical farce!

Nashville Repertory Theatre presents:
Noises Off (Oct. 13 – Nov. 5; Ages 14 & older)
TPAC’s Johnson Theater
505 Deaderick St., Nashville
615-782-4040 •
Showtimes: Wed – Thu 6:30 p.m., Fri 7:30 p.m., Sat 2:30 & 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $47.50 & $52.50

One of the funniest theatrical shows to hit the stage comes courtesy of playwright Michael Frayn with his comedy, Noises Off. It’s a hysterical play within a play, and Nashville Rep’s impeccable production is an undeniably fun experience. The show is a standout success for Nashville Rep, proving to be one of the company’s best in its history.

Frayn’s play pokes fun at the sex farces that were longtime staples in British theater, and does so with equal parts affection and mockery with Nothing On, the play that’s within the play. This three-act comedy gives the audience distinctly different experiences of Act One of Nothing On. The first is a peek into the final dress rehearsal of the play which nicely sets up the impending catastrophe. It’s quite evident when part of the unprepared cast think it’s the first technical rehearsal, and others have trouble remembering what props they’re supposed to be using — and there’s this whole silly sardine scenario that runs rampant throughout the show!

Act Two of Noises Off takes the audience backstage during Act One of Nothing On — about a month into the regional tour. At this juncture, an assortment of romantic entanglements among cast members and the director (who’s been messing around with one of the actresses as well as the assistant stage manager) results in the players sabotaging each other in the midst of a matinee performance. In this second act, the Nashville Rep cast — Eric D. Pasto-Crosby (Lloyd Dallas, the director), Martha Wilkinson (Dotty Otley), Jacob York (Garry Lejeune), Morgan Davis (Brooke Ashton), Steven Kraski (Frederick Fellowes), Jenny Littleton (Belinda Blair) Chase Miller (Tim Allgood), Brian Webb Russell (Selsdon Mowbray) and Cori Anne Laemmel (Poppy Norton-Taylor) — proves its stellar comedic timing with funny slapstick moments and madcap mayhem. There’s a lot of hijinks and door slamming on Gary Hoff’s spectacularly detailed set design of the 1970s-era Tudor-style country home that Nothing On takes place within.

Act Three brings the audience to the final leg of the Nothing On tour, and again we get to see Act One as it now exists. It’s quite comically evident that Nothing On is in fact on its last leg. The show’s a disaster of prop malfunctions, missed lines, misplaced cast members and drunks, but the Nothing On cast does its best to adhere to the adage, “the show must go on.”

The Rep cast works seamlessly to bring humorous moments to the production, and it’s wonderful to thoroughly enjoy a purely fun piece of theater. Of particular note, Davis plays her dumb-blond character with aplomb, and Russell’s forgetful alcoholic Selsdon is a dynamic scene-stealer. York brings a lot of physical humor and masterful facial expression to his role, and Miller puts a lot of energy into his Nashville Rep debut. Rep veteran Wilkinson gives a divine performance of Dotty Otley; this multi-talented actress has a strong skill set for comedic roles.


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