April 1, 2014

Noises Off: A Beautiful Mess On Stage and Back

When you enter a theater to watch a play, you are expected to come on time, stay in your seat, behave accordingly and breathe in synchrony with the audience. No unnecessary noise, no talks, no laughing. It was the opposite of what the audience did during the press preview of Noises Off.

Please, don't judge us. Noises Off is the hilarious offering of the Repertory Philippines on its 77th Season. The play which was originally written in 1982 by English Playwright, Michael Frayn, is a play within a play. It is a story of a temperamental director and his actors putting up a silly sex play called Nothing On. Noises Off brings us to the real action and drama in theater and backstage. 

Photo Credit Rep Phils

When the curtain opened and welcomed us to the final dress rehearsal of the play - Nothing On, I already knew something was wrong. Dotty came out with a plate of sardines who keeps on forgetting her blocking and lines. There came in more characters who have their own professional and personal problems from veteran actor whose wife left him, an alcoholic man who is always goes missing, to a young sexy actress who keeps on losing her contact lenses. You can imagine how hysterical the director would be. 

Click Read More to know why I am laughing about Noises Off..

The first act showed us how the theater works before the big opening. It is like looking at an organization where actors and actresses do not hold job titles under their names, but roles - and their quirks, experiences, and expectations collide.  

During the Press Con

Backstage (on the second act), the characters brought us to one month later, when Nothing On is now showing. Misunderstandings, conflict and jealousy arose as their lives and relationships intertwined. Expect a chaos in the backstage where characters fight and sabotage each other's line, and performance - while trying to keep the show going. It is watching slapstick comedy at pure class! 

Carla is such a revelation to me! 
She is the costume designer who served as replacement actress 

On the third act, when Nothing On is now heading towards the end of its tour, the stage manager opened the show with announcement that the play will be slightly delayed (at the same rate, we heard two characters screaming at each other backstage).

When the show finally began, things have gone bad to worse as the performers tried to save the play by changing the plot considerably, and covering their mistakes. We all knew that everything is so wrong about the last act - from misplaced props, to missing performers and incorrect blocking - a beautiful mess was staging in front of the live audience and the perfect chaos deserved more than our laughter but admiration to a well-orchestrated play for both its fictional and real audience.

Noises Off will let you understand that sardines is a staple food and prop, nosebleeds do happen, and contact lenses can make or break a production.

If watching a play is in your bucket list, it is time to book a ticket and see Noises Off. It is a treat as it is like seeing two plays in one stage. The powerful cast consists of Chinggoy Alonso, Frances Makil Ignacio, Paul Holme (who previously played the role of the director in the first production of Noises Off), Sheila Valderrama-Martinez, Lorenz Martinez, Carla Guevarra-Laforteza, Gerard Sison, Peachy Atilano, and Nico Dan. 

The great production is directed by Miguel Faustmann (who played the role of the director on the first production of Noises Off 30 years ago).

I am no expert in theater production, but directing a cast to play two roles in a play within a play, and having them act in sync for two set of audiences (act 2), it takes more than experience and talent to produce such organized chaos. The actors are great at their cues, and acting that the audience may be unaware that (maybe), some of them had missed their line or blocking during the press preview.  We wouldn't know. We were too busy laughing at the beautiful production in front of us, that every little thing seemed too perfect on stage. Noises Off is a great theater appetizer.

Noises Off runs from March 28 to April 13 and again from April 25-27. Shows on Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and matinee shows on Saturdays and Sundays at 3:30 p.m.  All performances are at Onstage, 2/F, Greenbelt 1, Paseo de Roxas cor. Legazpi St., Makati City. Book your tickets at Ticket World.

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