By Vienna Kaylan '15, Taft Papyrus
As soon as the cast of Michael Frayn’s hilarious British comedy Noises Off read the script for the first time, every actor and actress knew this show was going to be unlike anything they had ever participated in before. Noises Off is a “play within a play,” so the characters in the script prepare for their own play, Noises Off, a dramatic, highly complicated ordeal involving love, ghosts and burglars. As a result, each Taft actor and actress plays two roles: the person in Noises Off and the character this person portrays in the play Nothing On.
“Initially, we were very nervous,” explains Tommy Robertshaw ’14, “the script was absolutely hilarious, but we knew this play was going to be a challenge.”
The main challenge lay in Act II. The entire play is set on a rotating stage, expertly constructed by David Kievit and his crew, and in Act II, the audience views the production from the backstage side of the set, seeing a hilarious pantomime unfold as the cast struggles to keep the production going in the midst of chaos. “The timing has to be perfect,” recounts Robertshaw, “everything going on onstage has to match up perfectly with our pantomime backstage! It makes for the most hilarious situations, and by the end of rehearsals what was originally the hardest part of the play ended up being our favorite”.
Tommy plays Selsdon, an elderly British man who has managed to worm his way into one last production, but never quite seems to know what scene it is. Selsdon’s character is a burglar whose various attempts at robbery never go quite right for he is constantly interrupted by Mrs. Clackett, the housekeeper. Mrs. Clackett is played by Dotty, a struggling American actress who just wants the play to go well. Simmons Gaines ’15 plays Dotty in Noises Off. Dotty shares a love affair with Gary, an American Actor who struggles to articulate his confusion at the script. Cassie Wilson ‘13 plays American actress Belinda, who plays Flavia in Nothing On. Belinda finds herself having to keep the entire production together as the chaos worsens. Flavia’s husband in Nothing On is Phillip, played by American actor Freddy. Freddy always manages to complicate things further, and Sebastian La Pointe ‘14, says of his character, “He really wants to understand the script and become passionate about his words, but his efforts annoy everyone!” Gaines Semler ‘15 plays Gary, a passionate if not slightly confused actor, whose character in Noises Off is Roger. Vicky tries to keep Roger focused on her so the two can spend some private time, but is constantly being locked in the linen cupboard so her presence can be kept a secret from Mrs. Clackett. Vicky is played by American actress Brooke, who cannot seem to stay focused on what is going on, and makes all matters worse by constantly losing her contact lens. Brooke, played by Vienna Kaylan ‘15, has a relationship with the director of Nothing On, Loyd, a British director hopelessly attempting to contain his worsening actors while managing his other relationship with Poppy, played by Rebecca Karabus ‘13, the stage manager. Tim, the on-set repairmen who has been consistently overworked putting up the set and adjusting details to the chaos, tries to stay awake long enough to help keep everyone in line.
The entire production involves hilarious physical comedy. Mrs. Fifer even hired a professional stuntman to teach the cast how to fall down stairs, flip over couches, and accidentally hit each other. “The script calls for so much physicality,” says Karabus, “and we had so much fun learning how to be funny with our bodies as well as with our words!” With the help of costume director Susan Aziz, the entire cast has an amazing array of outfits. Director Helena Fifer laughs, “There is no question that "it took a village to perfect Noises Off but we think it has been worth all of the fuss, and you will love this play. We sure do"
Directed by Helena Fifer
Sets by Sean Fanning
Costumes by Susan Becker Aziz
Lights by Blake Joblin '13
Sound by David Kievit
Noises Off Cast:
Lloyd: Max Flath
Gary: Gaines Semler
Brooke: Vienna Kaylan
Freddie: Sebastian LaPointe
Belinda: Cassie Willson
Poppy: Rebecca Karabus
Tim: Aidan Gorman
Selsdon: Tommy Robertshaw
Dotty: Simmons Gaines
Stage Manager Maggie Luddy
First Assistant Stage Manager Peter Linn
Second Assistant Stage Manager Sophie Ricker
Stage Crew Josh Rinaldi, RJ White, Matt Burnham, Ryan Rothfuss
Light Board Operator Chris Hylwa
Sound Board Operator Stephen Tsai
Costumes Samantha Westmoreland