As the Pacific Northwest enters the short days and long nights of our famously dreary winter, Harlequin Productions presents Michael Frayn’s riotous farce, “Noises Off,” Jan. 17through Feb. 8at the State Theater in downtown Olympia. Corey McDaniel will direct.
Called “the funniest farce ever written,” (Clive Barnes, The New York Post) “Noises Off” presents a hilarious behind-the-scenes peek at an acting troupe rehearsing and performing the comedy “Nothing’s On.” After barely making it from final dress rehearsal to opening night, things quickly deteriorate during the run, culminating in a closing night disaster that threatens to jinx the old saying, “The show must go on.” In three acts: Act One, Act One, and Act One.
When Michael Frayne’s comedy about a play that goes unimaginably wrong opened on London’s West End in 1982, it was an instant critical and commercial success, winning the Evening Standard Award for Best Comedy. In 1983 the production came to Broadway, where again it received rave reviews as well as a Tony Award nomination for Best Play and a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Ensemble. As New York Times critic Frank Rich wrote: “‘Noises Off’ is, was, and probably always will be the funniest play written in my lifetime.”
“Noises Off” is very, very funny, but it’s also a rather accurate depiction of the tempests, dramas, heights, and pitfalls endemic to the backstage world of every theater. Perhaps that’s why, as director McDaniel notes, it’s one of those plays most actors and directors itch to perform.
“This piece is absolutely on my bucket list and I think it’s on most actors’ and directors’ bucket lists as well. I have been attempting to get this piece staged for many years, so I am incredibly excited to be invited to direct Harlequin’s production. I have seen six or seven versions and I know it to be a pure delight full of laughter and a whole lot of fun. Who doesn’t want to direct what is labeled as ‘the funniest play ever written’? Sign me up!”
McDaniel has set the play in 1982, the year it premiered. Asked what prompted the choice, he writes, “There are time-specific references in the text that can only remain if the play is set in the time it was written. I’ll also add that I am, without a doubt, a product of the ’80s. Design-wise, setting the show in 1982 allows us some subtle and fun aesthetics that I believe Harlequin’s patrons will enjoy and will be very fun for us to create. And the hair! Let’s have some fun with some 80’s bangs and hairspray!”
In his Director’s Notes for the production, McDaniel highlights a Mark Twain quote that concludes, “Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.” If there was ever a time for a good laugh, it’s now. On with the show!
State Theater is located at 202 4th Ave. E., Olympia. Tickets are available online at harlequinproductions.org, by phone at (360) 786-0151, or in-person 12-6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and two hours before performances at the Harlequin Box Office in the State Theater.
General admission tickets are $36; senior 60+/military $34; student/youth under 25 are $20; rush tickets (half-hour to showtime) are general $18; senior/military $17; and student/under 25 are $10.
Previews: Wednesday, Jan.15 and Thursday, Jan. 16 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets to the previews are $20 general admission.
Opening night: Friday, Jan. 17 at 7:30 p.m.
Pay-What-You-Can: Wednesday, Jan. 22 at 7:30 p.m.
Ladies’ Night Out: Friday, Jan. 24 at 7:30 p.m.
Post-show Talkback: Sunday, Jan. 26 at 2 p.m.
Pride Night: Friday, Jan. 31 at 7:30 p.m.