By Nathan Tafoya
Photo Courtesy Of UA News Services
Lindsay Fite, an acting and directing senior, bears all as Brooke Ashton/Vicki in the UA's Arizona Repertory Theatre rendition of "Noises Off!" The play runs Sept. 1-12 at Marroney Theatre on the UA campus.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, August 26, 2004
Theater's transparency and best comedic efforts will riotously grace the University of Arizona next week when a play-within-a-play favorite turns decibel meters on with its loudly laughing audience.
Sept. 1-12, the UA's Arizona Repertory Theatre will present "Noises Off!," a stage play by British playwright Michael Frayn, in the Marroney Theatre.
The play, which also showed earlier this summer, follows an inept acting troupe on- and off-stage as they spend three months together rehearsing for, and performing, a touring British sex-farce.
The play originally created a buzz in 1982 in London, and has since enjoyed immense popularity on both sides of the Atlantic. The backstage comedy of "Noises Off!" even sparked a film version in 1992 starring Carol Burnett, Christopher Reeve and John Ritter.
"I've seen the movie," said theatre arts instructor Lesley Abrams, who role-plays Dotty/Mrs. Clackett. "The movie's not as funny as the live, staged one we're doing. But is it arrogant of me to say I'm funnier than Carol Burnett?"
Abrams vouched for the comedic payoff of observing everything that can possibly go wrong, in fact, doing so.
"I'm very partial to the third act," said Abrams. "It's basically 12 weeks into the run of show that these people are doing and everything is falling apart. All the relationships have fallen apart. New relationships have been made and fallen apart. And it's total chaos."
As an actress, Abrams has the unique challenge of performing through a type of triple lens in "Noises Off!"
One of Abrams' characters, Mrs. Clackett, has a fairly stable life, while Dotty, the fictitious actress playing Mrs. Clackett, is falling into relational ruin.
The actual actress, Abrams, assured the Wildcat her real life, the one outside the theater, was just fine.
"That's what I like about the play so much," said Abrams. "I get to play two character s who are going through two completely different experiences."
Abrams added that providing the emotional intensity of her character Dotty and by extension, Dotty's character as Mrs. Clackett, was the most challenging for her.
|If you go...|
Evenings: Sept. 1-4, 9-11 at 7:30 p.m.
Matinees: Sept. 4,5,11,12 at 1:30 p.m.
General Addmission: $25
Senior citizen/UA employee $23
Tickets: UA Fine Arts Box Office (520) 621-1162
Some adult language and content
"And it's such an accurate play about the theater," she said. "It really is accurate about the way actors are. "
So accurate, in fact, that life imitated art this year at the Arizona Repertory Theatre. Excluding the summer break, the "Noises Off!" cast will have spent approximately the same amount of time together as the fictitious acting troupe in the show.
Lindsay Fite, an acting and directing senior, plays the sexy, not-very-clothed Brooke Ashton/Vicki.
"Only I'm not blonde," said Fite. "The character is typically a blond person."
The brunette said it is difficult to portray the fast-paced physical comedy of "Noises Off!" in a realistic fashion.
"It's more about having it be non-chaotic, but having it look like it's chaos," said Fite. "So everything's precisely planned and blocked out and rehearsed over and over again so that it's safe."
And safety is an issue for actors. Fite said she's been hurt more than a few times.
"I do a flip over a couch at one point, and I've at numerous times landed on my butt," said Fite. "I've twisted my ankle going up the stairs before, 'cause my shoes are really tall."
Even though she has been hurt - an earring almost ripped off her ear every time for a particular scene - Fite said she has found a favorite act in the three-act play.
"I think act two is my favorite because it lets the audience see what it's really like for actors backstage," she explained.
As a student and actress, Fite has learned how to make the most of her time during the day and how to function with lack of sleep.
"It's actually a lot harder than people think," said Fite. "It's really tough because if you're not doing a show, you have rehearsal, so usually there's not time to get anything done for school until after 10 o'clock at night."
As for memorizing her lines, Fite said the words just come to her because she reads them so many times at rehearsal and at home-unlike those of a certain other actress.
"I have to confess," Abrams admitted. "Yesterday, I went back to look at my lines, and there was a line in there that I've never said. I don't know how that's possible. I've never said this line. Ever. I was so shocked!"
The abandoned line is: "And he left a box for you in the garden."
"I have no idea what we've been doing since I didn't say that line," Abrams said, in what appeared to be genuine mystification.
Regardless of her space/time/line continuum debacle, Abrams' director, Samantha Wyer, had nothing but good things to say about her performance.
"Lesley has done a great job of differentiating between the character inside the play and outside," Wyer said, speaking of the very thing Abrams said was her biggest challenge.
Wyer, who also directed the production of Neil Simon's "Rumors" last year, said the Arizona Repertory Theatre chose to put on the play because, "it is probably one of the funniest plays ever written."