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“Noises Off” at Poor Richard's Players and SST: a hilarious evening of whirlwind insanity

★★★½☆ - Satisfying

There’s an old theatrical tradition that if the Dress Rehearsal is terrible then the Opening Night will be great! Atypically, the manic menagerie of itinerant actors rehearsing a flop called “Nothing’s On” find themselves caught in a time warp of frustration as they have little time left to rehearse and are understaffed. Pratfalls, on and offstage intrigue, and sardines all figure in the plot of this hilarious and comic theatrical romp.

This satisfying 3.5 Star production, presented by Poor Richard's Players & Super Summer Theatre, runs through September 21st at Spring Mountain Ranch State Park.

Called “the funniest farce ever written,” playwright Michael Frayn's Noises Off takes a fond look at the follies of theatre folk, whose susceptibility to out-of-control egos, memory loss, and passionate affairs turn every performance into a high-risk adventure. This play-within-a-play captures a touring theatre troupe’s production of Nothing On in three stages: dress rehearsal, the opening performance, and a performance towards the end of a debilitating run. Frayne gives us a window into the inner workings of theatre behind the scenes, progressing from flubbed lines and missed cues in the dress rehearsal to mounting friction between cast members in the final performance. Brimming with slapstick comedy, Noises Off is a delightful backstage farce, complete with slamming doors, falling trousers, and -- of course -- flying sardines!