Comedy ‘Noises Off’ brings flying sardines, falling trousers to stage

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Noises Off
Actor Caroline Davis plays Brooke in "Noises Off." Photo by Will Crooks.

Three acts in Centre Stage’s “Noises Off” — a dress rehearsal, an opening performance, and a later performance — sneak audiences backstage for a firsthand glimpse at theater life. The good, the bad, and the funny.

The comedy features a show within a show while poking fun at the follies of actors.

“Playwright Michael Frayn did a fantastic job of capturing the mayhem of putting up a farce for an audience,” local actor Caroline Davis says.

Following a theater company’s tour of “Nothing On,” the comedy highlights actors falling behind schedule, flubbing lines, and missing cues.

Oh, and of course all the slapstick comedy, falling trousers, and flying sardines one would expect to see permeate the play.

“This whole show is basically a celebration of all the ridiculous things theater-makers do to keep a production on its feet in the face of disaster,” Davis says. “As the old adage says, ‘The show must go on!’”

Davis, who portrays the somewhat lost actor Brooke in “Noises Off,” says Brooke’s fellow cast members help her stay up to speed in the show’s play “Nothing On.”

“I love that Frayn wrote this play in such a way that we get to truly live the experiences of our characters through the whole process,” she says. “It’s chaos, but it’s fun chaos.” 

Preparing for this production has presented unique challenges for the cast. Davis says she did her script analysis twice — first for “Noises Off” and then again for “Nothing On.”

“We have often found ourselves living whole scenes from the play in real time during rehearsal,” she says. “We’re all backstage searching for sardines, trying to figure out who is missing, and dealing with wardrobe malfunctions just like our characters do.”

Comedies require lots of focus for precision and timing, Davis says, but “Noises Off” has some “extra fun hurdles” that leave the cast in a daze and drenched in sweat.

Audiences should expect to leave Centre Stage wiping tears of laughter from their eyes.

“You know that feeling you get when you laugh so hard that your ab muscles kind of hurt after? That’s what I want them to feel,” Davis says.

‘Noises Off’

When: May 9-25
Where: Centre Stage, 501 River St., Greenville
Tickets: $15-$30
Info: www.centrestage.org

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