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'Noises Off' review: Andrea Martin leads Broadway revival

The cast of "Noises Off" (from left): David Furr, Kate Jennings Grant, Megan Hilty, Campbell Scott, Tracee Chimo, Andrea Martin, Jeremy Shamos, Daniel Davis and Rob McClureJoan Marcus/©2015 Joan Marcus

The cast of “Noises Off” (from left): David Furr, Kate Jennings Grant, Megan Hilty, Campbell Scott, Tracee Chimo, Andrea Martin, Jeremy Shamos, Daniel Davis and Rob McClure

Broadway’s fitfully funny “Noises Off” reminds that it’s tricky to perfectly bake this triple layer cake of a comedy. This production gets about it about halfway right — so even with a soggy and slack final stretch, you’re left grinning over the show’s sly inner workings.

Michael Frayn, the English author of dramas like “Copenhagen” and Democracy,” works his seriously silly side, using a play-within-a-play structure and insights into actors and directors in this 1982 farce. The story follows an addled acting company performing a lightweight lark from various angles. That means the cast goes through its lines and motions in triplicate.

Act one, set amid a dress rehearsal of “Nothing On,” lands some good laughs as we meet the fictional cast on the night before opening — and see that they’re just not ready. Leading lady Dotty (Andrea Martin) bungles entrances, exits, lines and plates of oily sardines that lead to a slippery slapstick slope. Her castmates give their director Lloyd (Campbell Scott, with a nice, light touch) every reason to fret.

Act II, set a month later, rotates the perspective. This time, we watch the cast do the play from backstage, where the feuds and fizzled romances that were hinted at earlier explode and cause every acting offense under the sun. This is when real show — as opposed to the play-within-the-play — hits its stride. It’s packed tight as a tin of sardines with laughter.

But Act III, set a month later, leads to diminishing returns. It strives to be madcap merry mayhem, but it’s overly long overkill.

Director Jeremy Herrin’s staging features a number of Roundabout regulars not known for broad comedy, but David Furr, Jeremy Shamos, Tracee Chimo and Kate Jennings Grant step up. Martin, a comic ace, brings signature unhinged unpredictability — a boon to any comedy. Daniel Davis, as wayward senior actor Selsdon, has a goofy demented look in his eyes. Megan Hilty lets it all hang out in pink lingerie and is terrific as a terrifically bad actress.

Shining brightest is Rob McClure, who loads fun and finesse into the small role of an overtaxed prop manager and understudy, who shivers from stagefright like an overgrown Chihuahua. McClure is the icing, nuts and sprinkles all in one on this confection.


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Music & Arts – NY Daily News


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