‘Noises Off’ a comedic masterpiece

Camille Carlisle

Villanova Student Theatre’s production of “Noises Off” provides an outstanding evening of entertainment that makes two hours pass more quickly than the show’s 15 minutes of intermission.

“Noises Off” is a comedy that reveals the interpersonal drama that can plague casts.

The show’s first act takes place on the set of the dress rehearsal for the play, “Nothing On,” which is about “the doors and the sardines.” First on stage is Dotty Otley, playing Mrs. Clackett (but really played by Janet McWilliams, fresh from her café singer role in “Beyond Therapy” at Vasey), who entrances everyone with her cockney accent and absurd hair.

The laughing really begins, though, when the director for “Nothing On,” Lloyd Dallas (played by Andrew Pucci), starts yelling at her from the audience for messing up the stage directions.

And the laughter doesn’t stop. From Pucci’s pacings and Shanna Wagenheim’s (Belinda Blair/Flavia Brent) absurd dramatic gestures while in double character, to Alyse Keller’s (Brooke Ashton/Vicki) airhead contact lens losses, the show keeps its audience doubled up in their chairs, panting from laughter.

Act One, the dress rehearsal for which the burglar (Selsdon Mowbray, played by Matthew Clay) shows up drunk and the assistant stage manager Poppy (Loretta Vasile) finds out the director is cheating on her with Brooke, ends in what feels like five minutes.

Act Two, which takes place mostly in backstage silence while “Nothing On” continues on the set’s other side, brings out bloody noses, axe fights and cactus wounds to complement the drama.

The absurdity culminates in Act Three, although, true to absurd theatre, the play reaches no resolution.

Last Friday night’s performance suffered various mistakes, said Jimmy Yandoli, the student director.

However, the only one obvious to the audience was the crashing of various glass objects off the sideboard in Act Three. Despite shards across the stage, the actors continued to scuttle about – both on foot and on hands and knees.

If you like a show so enthralling you can’t stand to go outside during intermission for fear of missing something, go see “Noises Off” this weekend. The show plays in St. Mary’s Auditorium tonight and tomorrow at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m.