Madcap! Wacky! Zany!

Rated 4.0

Noises Off is not an easy production to put on or to pull off. Usually only larger theaters (Sacramento Theatre Company, Foothill Theatre Company) undertake this madcap British farce about a wacky theater troupe because of the complicated staging and need for actors with impeccable timing.

But Chautauqua Playhouse, the community theater in Carmichael, decided to throw caution to the wind, tackle the crazy set and accumulate a talented cast to produce a winning production of Noises Off.

First, the play. In three acts, Noises Off follows a community theater troupe through dress rehearsal of a zany British comedy, the beginning of their small town theatrical tour and the continual meltdown of the company as they near the end.

Second, the set. The revolving set is a star in any production of Noises Off, since the audience gets to see the play-within-a-play set as well as the backstage antics. And because it’s a slam-the-door slapstick, there are eight doors and multiple windows on both sides of the set. Though Chautauqua’s isn’t a fancy set (and it doesn’t really need to be since they are portraying a second-tier theater company), it does a first-rate job.

Third, the cast and the staging. The most important element of Noises Off is corralling comedic actors with fine-tuned timing, an enthusiasm for entrances and exits, a fondness for follies, a talent for dropping lines and dropping pants and a contagious joy of performing. That’s check, check, check, check and check. Add to that a second act that is almost done completely in mime! Kudos to director Diane Bartlett and the cast.

This Noises Off is spot on.