Here’s Noises Off star Glenn Jones (center) celebrating art and life with director Gary Shaffer (right). At left is actor Michael Kroll, who’s not in this show, but a frequent cohort of the others nonetheless. (Photo by Lauren Morris)
By TOM CHESEK
On one stage, there’s a self-conscious sex farce that turns the theatergoing experience completely inside out. On another, a classic of the English language, wrenched from the proscenium and tossed out onto the lawn like your ex’s clothes.
All this and more can be found this weekend at venues within the greater Red Bank oRBit.
A satirical smash that’s a sly commentary on every door-slamming, drawers-dropping comedy ever written as well as a mighty fine door-slamming, drawers-dropping comedy in its own right Michael Frayn’s 1982 Noises Off puts a high-concept spin on some of the oldest theatrical devices in the book, giving its large cast a run for its money while sending the idea of the “backstage show” whirling like an out-of-control revolving door.
In this play-within-a-play, the audience watches a British stage company stumble its way through a rehearsal of the first act of a tawdry bedroom farce. We then watch the troupe performing a matinee of that same act of the same tawdry bedroom farce, only seen from backstage with a view of the many tensions and turmoils among the cast. Finally, we see that same first act once again, horrendously rendered by the tired troupe at the end of their run, when tempers flare, things fall apart and all hell breaks loose.
It’s a show that’s commonly revived with a revolving set, Indy 500-style crew breakdowns or other star-quality stagecraft. It’s not a show that’s commonly done inside a small barn that’s been converted into a modestly scaled community playhouse.
But that’s precisely what Holmdel Theatre Company intends to do, beginning tonight and continuing for the next four weekends at its Duncan Smith Theater on Crawford’s Corner/Everett Road.