Story: A troupe of actors is on the road with its production of Nothing On, a sex comedy set in “a delightful 16th century posset mill” by its author, Robin Housemonger. It’s now been restored to a fashionable retreat owned by Philip and Flavia Brent, who spend most of their time living abroad to avoid paying taxes. When the Brents sneak back to their estate, they unknowingly are joining realtor Roger Tramplemain, who is showing the place to a sexy Inland Revenue agent named Vicki. The Brents’ housekeeper, Mrs. Clackett, does an indifferent job keeping up the abode, which is about to be burglarized by a senior thief as well as visited by a sheikh who looks a lot like Philip and is interested in renting out the home.
Lloyd Dallas is the director in charge of preparing the show for its debut, with horrible results. When not pleading with his cast to learn their lines, Lloyd is wooing fetching young actress Brooke Ashton, who has a penchant for losing her contact lenses. Lloyd also is the unknowing father of the baby being carried by assistant stage manager Poppy, an emotional sort who reports to overworked stage manager Tim. Dotty Otley, who plays Mrs. Clackett, is dating Gary (Roger), who becomes jealous when he thinks that Frederick (Philip) is seeing Dotty. Chief gossip Belinda (Flavia) tries to keep everyone informed of romantic entanglements, while Selsdon (burglar) always is searching for booze. Yikes!
Highlights: Michael Frayn wrote this uproarious, three-act farce after realizing that a performance of one of his other plays was funnier off-stage than on, and won Britain’s Olivier Award for Best Comedy in 1982 as a result. Kirkwood Theatre Guild recently completed a successful, two-weekend run directed by Robert Thibaut that, for the most part, maintained the mayhem of Frayn’s hilarious comedy with a solid cast and crew that managed to juggle theatrical balls in the air and keep the show moving at the frenzied pace required for optimal impact.
Other Info: Donald Larew’s imposing set design, assembled by some of the more than 100 people involved in the KTG production, showcased the living room of the Brent home on the main floor and several doors off a second floor that allowed for entrances and exits by myriad players. Rebecca Davidson’s props were key to the shenanigans, whether a plateful of sardines or a phone with an overly long extension cord. Anthony Anselmo provided lighting, Lee Meyer added the amusing sound design and Cherol Thibaut offered an array of delightful costumes, whether the elegant styles of Philip and Flavia, the skimpy undergarments for Brooke or the common threads for Tim and Poppy. Linda Menard capably handled duties as the actual stage manager for the busy presentation.
On stage, director Robert Thibaut extracted fine and funny performances by a cast that was at its best when it was most hectic, not so much when it allowed the pace to slow down. The talented roster included Janet Robey-Schwartz as the forgetful Dotty, Jason Meyers as the womanizing and frustrated Lloyd, Stephen Pierick as the stammering Gary, Ann Hier as the impervious Brooke, Kathryn Weber as the excitable Poppy, Jeff Kargus as the self-doubting, nose-bleeding Frederick, Nancy Nigh as the self-assured, savvy Belinda, David Bornholdt as the overworked and under-appreciated Tim and Richard Hunsaker as the tippling Selsdon.
Complete with a clever program-within-a-program for Nothing On, including a roster of biographies for the fictional performers, Noises Off marked a most impressive start for the Kirkwood Theatre Guild’s 80th season.
Rating: A 4 on a scale of 1-to-5.
Group: Kirkwood Theatre Guild
Venue: Reim Theatre, Kirkwood Community Center
Dates: Run concluded