Noises Off

By Michael Frayn

Directed by D. Scott Glasser

A second-rate star headlines a third-rate British troupe touring in a fourth-rate sex farce called Nothing On. Visit the outrageous world behind the scenes at the disastrous technical rehearsal and even more unruly performances of this play. Misspoken lines and missed cues create pandemonium onstage, while backstage romances and jealousies spill from behind the curtain. One of the greatest farces of the 20th century, Noises Off combines sardines, slamming doors, super glue, sexy starlets and stage snafus to a riotous effect.

Presented by The Rep at the Wisconsin Union Theater

December 14-17, 2000

December 14

7:30 pm

December 15

8:00 pm

December 16

4 and 8:00 pm

December 17

1:30* and 5:30 pm

*audience discussion

Ticket prices are $27 for Friday and Saturday performances and $22 for Thursday and Sunday performances. Tickets are on sale at the Wisconsin Union Theater Box Office, or call (608) 262-2201. For information on GROUP RATES, call Madison Rep at 256-0029 x13.

*An AUDIENCE TALKBACK is scheduled to follow the 1:30 p.m. performance on December 17. This is an informal gathering for the audience to meet with the director and cast members to discuss the play.


About the Play

Noises Off, written by Michael Frayn (author of the international hit Copenhagen), is a rollicking comedy about a third-rate British theater troupe touring in a fourth-rate sex farce called Nothing On. The play begins as the hapless cast frantically tries to pull the show together in an 11th- hour dress rehearsal. Actors are AWOL, doors don't work, and the sardines are never in the right place as the time ticks closer to the hour of opening. Act II opens a month into performances. The show is on the road and heading for disaster. The backstage view of the play reveals the deteriorating personal relationships that have led to offstage shenanigans and onstage bedlam. Act III takes us back out front again to see the shambles that Nothing On has become as it nears the end of its run. The actors persevere in an absurd world of near-total mayhem, trying to cover a series of mishaps by making up the play as they go along.

About the Production

Rep Artistic Director D. Scott Glasser has directed Noises Off on three different occasions, most recently last summer at the Utah Shakespearean Festival where it received rave reviews. The Salt Lake Tribune said, "Sure-handed direction by D. Scott Glasser creates a crescendo of comedy &endash; things just keep getting wilder. The timing of the door-slamming entrances and exits, and the myriad of technical and physical details, is quick and exact, but the beats in the dialogue are well-spaced, allowing for the plentiful laughter that fills the hall in every comic pause." Las Vegas Weekly said, " It's exquisitely choreographed under D. Scott Glasser's swift direction."

Glasser said, "Noises Off is truly one of the funniest plays in the English language, written by a master of intricate ideas, Michael Frayn. It is an amazing and challenging play, demanding all the actors' skills and then some. The payoff is extraordinary -- I have never heard such sustained audience laughter as I have at this comedy."

Following the Madison run, the Rep's production of Noises Off will open at the Self Family Arts Center at Hilton Head, South Carolina, on February 2, 2001, for a four-week run. Rep Managing Director Tony Forman said, "It is a great opportunity for the Rep to present Noises Off in Hilton Head in cooperation with the Self Family Arts Center. We're delighted to be able to expand our programming beyond the Midwest and to participate in the national theater community."

The design team for Noises Off includes George Maxwell, scenery; Bill Black, costumes; John Tees III, lights and Jack Sayre, sound. The production stage manager is Meghan Gauger.

About the Cast

Glasser has assembled a cast that brings together many Rep favorites. Mark Ulrich, most recently seen at the Rep as Arno in What Corbin Knew and Clarke in Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde, will play the harried director Lloyd. Paul Boesing, whose previous Rep credits include Dr. Kelekian in Wit and James Tyrone in Long Day's Journey into Night, plays the aging and tipsy actor Selsdon. Carrie Hitchcock (A…My Name Will Always Be Alice, Private Lives) plays the persevering Belinda. Marc Silvia, who played Oscar Wilde in Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde, will play the forlorn Frederick. Russ Benton, fresh from his role in the Rep's production of Side Man, is the frantic leading man, Garry Lejeune. Madison native Jacob Mullis (Gross Indecency, Wit) plays the put-upon stage manager, Tim Allgood. Amy Geyser (How I Learned to Drive) plays the naïve assistant stage manager, Poppy Norton-Taylor. Making their Rep debuts in Noises Off are Karis Campbell as the young and distracted Brooke, and Leslie Brott as indomitable star, Dotty.

About the Playwright

Michael Frayn was born in the suburbs of London in 1933 and graduated from the University of Cambridge in 1957. He became a journalist at the age of 24 and worked as a reporter, columnist, and critic for the Manchester Guardian and The Observer. A wide-ranging and prolific author, Frayn wrote novels, plays, documentary films, and teleplays. He also translated and adapted several plays by Chekov.

His plays include Alphabetical Order (1976), Make and Break (1980), Donkeys' Years (1977), Benefactors (1984), and Here: A Play in Two Acts (1993). Frayn wrote Noises Off in 1982. His most recent play, Copenhagen, is currently running in London and New York. It opened on Broadway in April of 2000, in June, won the 2000 Tony Award for Best Play.

Frayn's novels include Tin Men (1965), The Russian Interpreter (1966), A Very Private Life (1968), The Trick of It (1989), Now You Know (1992), and his most recent novel, Headlong.