Behind the curtain, theatres are hotbeds for chaos and no play shows this better than Noises Off.
Director Mark Liermann of Western Michigan University Theatre says it’s probably one of the best known farces in modern theatre.
“It is about a company of actors who are striving to create the best show that they can and everything that can go wrong does go wrong,” he says. “The show is unique in that it’s seen from three perspectives. We see the last rehearsal in the first act. Then we see it from backstage at performance a month later. And then we see it in the third act again from the front at the final performance or one of the final performances."
Part of the comedy of the show is seeing the difference between the characters on stage and the actors’ true personalities. The actors are able to keep their composure on stage, but off stage each of them is a mess. There’s an elderly alcoholic, a diva actress, and your stereotypical ‘dumb blonde.’
Noises Off is primarily a slapstick comedy. It makes light of typical theatre problems like scrambling for costumes and forgotten lines. But it also shows fights between actors and awkward love triangles. Director Mark Liermann says most plays aren’t this chaotic, but every company is bound to have one of these problems sooner or later.
“Everything that’s happened in the show has happened at some point in our careers as it were, or in a show that we’ve been in or something close to it. Maybe not to the extent of what happens in this show. Maybe not to the comedic potential that is pulled in this show. But I think that’s what makes it work so well is that it is relatable not only to the specifics of a theatrical production, but to life itself.”
WMU will put on Noises Off at Shaw Theatre. The show starts Thursday and runs through October 20th.