UCA’s ‘Noises Off’ provides comedic relief with a play about a play

“Noises Off” is showing at the UCA on Friday Nov. 11th and Saturday Nov. 12. “Noises Off” is a British farcical comedy about all the drama and pure wildness that comes with putting together a theater show.

“This show is really unique,” said director and drama professor Eric Prince.

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There is profanity and mild, comedic violence, but all in all the show is appropriate and authentic and certainly more PG-13 than the UCA’s last theater performance of “Ubu Roi”.

The play was initially written in 1982 by Michael Frayn, a journalist and novelist turned playwright. When it came to writing “Noises Off,” he had a desire to show the audience what else happens behind the scenes and prior to performing a show.

“(Frayn) said ‘it’s funnier what’s going on backstage than what was happening onstage’ and that gave him the idea to write a play like this,” Prince said.

Because there is a play within a play, the way the show is broken up is unique. The first act shows a dress rehearsal of the show and sets up all the characters as who they are as actors and sets up all the dominoes of self destruction to fall later in the show.

For the second act, the stage rotates to reveal the “backstage” of the show. This act is performed mostly in silence because they must be quiet backstage. Because of this, this act relies primarily on physical comedy.

The third and final act shows one of the final productions of the show and allows the audience to witness everything come crashing down.

“The third act shows the whole play disintegrating,” Prince said.

The play has very silly British humor. Prince even goes to compare it to some of the material we might see in Monty Python.

“There’s no other comedy like it; nothing’s been written like this,” Prince said. “Because it’s all totally about showing the audience what theater really is all about.”

The play is very well written and follows multiple dramas and relationships that get all tangled up. Prince describes it as “well structured entertainment.”

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With everything that has been in the news this week, this show is a nice escape. “There is so much despondency around the community right now about the elections,” Prince said.

Similarly, this show was unique in the sense that a large, history-changing election occurred right before opening night to provide some drama in the actors’ lives.

“We were doing a dress rehearsal on Tuesday, the election night,” Prince said. “Some people were following the results, you know, all night long. When we finished our dress rehearsal the students, particularly the students who had been working hard, were sat on the stage in tears crying. They felt so bad. We were having to sort of raise morale.”

“For me this week doing this play, it’s a real anecdote—you’ll watch it, you’ll laugh, and you’ll go away with your mind taken off of all the electioneering we’ve been suffering the past two years,” Prince said.

Along with taking your mind off everything going on right now, not only is the plot a good distraction, it is one that demands attention. The show is very well put together.

“Feel good about how good your fellow students are because the actors in this play, they really are good,” Prince said. “Their English accents are better than mine and I’m English!”

The acting is truly incredible between the accents, the comedic timing and the physical comedy all the actors endure with a personal favorite being sophomore Annabel Wall as Dotty whose old lady mannerisms and facial expressions I want to use as reaction gifs.

I would especially recommend this play for anyone who has ever worked to put together a theater show because there are so many relatable moments. But, of course, anyone can enjoy the show because it truly is hilarious.

My only critique of the show is that there was so much constantly going on onstage making it occasionally hard to follow or at least pick up all of the little jokes.

This whole show was truly incredible; I was in tears while laughing so hard. And this extends beyond just the acting and plot. It was all amazing from the costumes to the rotating stage to the lights and to the sound—Yakety Sax running scenes are always hilarious. Everything came together and worked so well to put together this ridiculous show.