Thursday, January 21, 2016

Broadway Theater Review: Noises Off

Noises Off

By Michael Frayn
Directed by Jeremy Herrin

What's It All About?
It's a revival of the 1982 play by Michael Frayn about backstage drama while a group of actors tries to put on a play called "Nothing On." Andrea Martin (Pippin) stars as Dotty Otley, a middle-aged actress who has a lot of trouble remembering when she needs her props of sardines and newspapers. She makes her beau, Garry Lejeune (David Furr) jealous by pretending to be interested in Freddy (Jeremy Shamos), who gets a lot of nosebleeds. Meanwhile, untalented ingenue Brooke Ashton (a very funny Megan Hilty), who gets between the show's director, Lloyd (Dallas (Campbell Scott) and the assistant stage manager, Poppy Norton-Taylor (Tracee Chimo). Poppy's boss is overworked Tim Algood (Rob McClure), in a role that under utilizes the abilities of this Chaplin star). Rounding out the cast are Kate Jennings Grant as seasoned actress Belinda Blair and Daniel Davis (again a role that hardly taps the comic genius of the actor playing it) as Sheldon Mowbray, the veteran actor whose penchant for whiskey often causes him to mess up his entry cues.

What Are the Highlights?
Martin has some fun moments and Scott is entertaining in his frustration. Hilty is a hoot as the clueless and talent-less Brooke who stiffly recites her lines as written regardless of the mayhem going on around her (though it is hard to understand her when she yells). Derek McLane nicely executes the set, which transforms form the set of the "Nothing On" play to the backstage area where mayhem ensues.

What Are the Lowlights?
This play always seems like it's stretching to me. It's a typical farces with lots of doors, repeated gags and physical humor, but it just never seems to get me rolling in the aisles. The plot is just too ridiculous.

More Information:
Additional Creative Team: Derek McLane, Set Design; Michael Krass, Costume Design; Jane Cox Lighting Design; Christopher Cronin Sound Design; Todd Almond Original Music; Paul Huntley Hair and Wig Design; Lorenzo Pisoni; Comedy Stunt Coordinator; Elizabeth Smith
Dialect Consultant

-- God's name taken in vain
-- Scantily clad actors

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists. Her play "From Reel to Real: The Jennifer O'Neill Story" was presented as part of the League of professional Theatre Women's Julia's reading Room Series in New York in February 2018.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (, an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for She previously served as theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer, Connecticut theater editor for and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

She is a Co-Founder of the Connecticut Chapter of the League of Professional Theatre Women.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle. and the Episcopal Actors' Guild.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.


All material is copyright 2008- 2018 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact


Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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