Playhouse presents ‘Noises Off’

staff writer

Who needs an ab workout when the Erie Playhouse can make you laugh until your stomach hurts?
The Erie Playhouse’s production of “Noises Off” opened two weeks ago, and this play nearly brought the house down.
This farce models the generic elements of a slapstick comedy.
Purposefully bad acting, over-dramatic characters, inappropriate gestures and well-timed falls created a show that could bring a smile to almost any face.
“Noises Off” is a play within a play, where Playhouse actors are playing the role of actors cast as characters in “Nothing’s On.”
Over the course of three acts, the audience views everything from dress rehearsal to their final performance, following the storyline of “Nothings On,” where each actor sneaks around a house, nearly missing each other with each exit and entrance.
The Erie Playhouse focused a lot on the individual flaws of these actors and how they ultimately ruin the performance of “Nothings On,” but create a comedy in “Noises Off.”
Opening the play, the audience is introduced to the terrible acting of one Brooke Ashton, who plays Vicki in “Nothings On.”
While all the characters held a special comedic role in this play, Ashton particularly stood out.
This character didn’t seem to understand what acting meant.
Her performance showcased a type of Vanna White style, where she modeled the stage and other actors using overly large gestures.
She read her lines like a 4-year-old that just learned to read, shouting out each word with little conviction to its actual meaning.
Overall, her character added a lot of humor to the opening act.
The second act unsheathed some drama between the cast members, and laughter was hard to keep in.
As tensions grew, the cast began making crude jokes, while also sabotaging each others’ performance.
To put it plainly, punches were thrown, falling occurred and the efforts of these characters trying to get off one another became a promiscuous action that was humorous to the audience and disgustingly provocative to the on-stage actors.
However, their reactions only added to the tear-jerking laughter from the seated crowd.
Despite the fact my voice did go dry from laughing so often, this play was no America’s Funniest Home Videos episode.
AFV is famous for the humor that comes after someone falls or hurts themselves in a silly manner.
Often the viewer does not see the incident coming, making the surprise that much funnier.
“Noises Off” missed that act of spontaneity.
Often when an actor fell or tripped over something, the action seemed too planned out.
While this is a play, and all falls and combat must be rehearsed for the actor’s safety, the obvious falls ruined the illusion of this being a real performance and killed some laughter.
However, this void was filled with humor of individual characters forgetting lines, misplacing props and getting into silly fights backstage.
For a farce, this play outshined a lot of other comedies that just don’t live up to their reputations.
The Erie Playhouse cast properly, and the actors were able to bring about a humorous evening.
“Noises Off” will be playing at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday.

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