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‘Noises Off’

By Mitchell Field No Comments

Theater Review of ‘Noises Off’ at Novato Theater Company
   by Mitchell Field
   a member of the
   San Francisco Bay Area Theater Critics Circle…
I broke a New Year’s resolution last week.
I went to see a show which I have seen before, something which I had resolved not to do, reasoning that there are so many new shows to see, as well as older ones which I have never seen.
In fact, I had twice before seen this particular show, Novato Theater Company’s (NTC) production of the now 90 year-old British dramatist Michael Frayne’s ‘Noises Off’, which The New York Times critic Frank Rich claimed ‘is, was, and probably always will be, the funniest play written in my lifetime’.
‘Noises Off ‘ premiered on Broadway in 1983 and it’s slapstick, door-slamming buffoonery has been a staple of both professional and community theaters ever since.
The lure of one theater’s funniest and most irreverent farces, coupled with the directorial talents of Bay Area stage favorite Carl Jordan, winner of numerous ‘Best Director’ awards from the San Francisco Bay Area Theater Critics Circle (SFBATCC), made me reconsider and Jordan and his NTC team didn’t disappoint.
Frayne’s clever set-up is a three-act farce, a play-within-a-play, which features a seedy theater company rehearsing a cheesy sex-comedy, seen first from the audience’s perspective, the subsequent out-of-town performance from backstage in Act II, then from the audience’s perspective again in Act III. 
Using theater set-design wizardry on NTC’s wide but shallow stage, Marin’s Michael Walraven creates a marvelous revolving affair, which facilitates perfectly the Monty Python-like nincompoopery of the piece.
Jordan’s evenly-balanced cast features Marin stage favorite Heather Shepardson, NTC newcomers Jeffrey Biddle, Diego Hardy, Mike Pavone and Melody Payne, all well-supported by locals Sky Collins, Jane Harrington and Rachel Kaiulani-Kennely and the perennially solid Wood Lockhart, as the doddering Selsdon, a veteran actor with a drinking problem and the show is skillfully lit by SFBATCC award-winning Frank Sarubbi, his 48th assignment for NTC.
Novato Theater Company, like many theater companies around the country are rebuilding post-pandemic and were recently the recipients of four SFBATCC awards for their production of ‘Addams Family’. ‘Noises Off’ has already been awarded a ‘GO SEE’ nomination from the SFBATCC.
‘Noises Off’, which runs through July 14 2024 is a laugh-out-loud affair, ‘guaranteed to delight’ both first-timers and those familiar with the show.
What:     ‘Noises Off’
Where:   Novato Theater Company,  5420 Nave Drive, Novato, CA. 94949
When:    Through July 14 2024     
               Fri & Sat at 7.30 Sundays at 2 pm                           
              (additional performance Thurs. July 11 at 7.30)
Why:       For the laughs and to support local theater.