Noises Off

Bonnie Goldberg

What do sardines, sheets, sheiks, shenanigans, a stage company, secrets, screams, sneak thieves, sex maniacs and Spain all have to do with each other? On the surface very little you might say. But if you head to the Jorgensen Theatre at the University of Connecticut at Storrs by Sunday, June 25, the Connecticut Repertory Theatre will illustrate all the extraneous connections and have a lot of fun in the process.

It’s time to raise the curtain for Michael Frayn’s funny farce “Noises Off” when the cast of a British theatre company tries to put on a show called “Nothing On.” It’s a dress rehearsal and the director Lloyd (John Bixler) has his hands full trying to control the players. Think a lion tamer where the lions are on the loose, or on strike and generally uncooperative.

Personal intrigues, like an unplanned pregnancy, cause problems and threaten to sabotage the show. The audience is witness to all the complications in front of and behind the stage, on a wonderful revolving set designed by Tim Brown.

A dress or technical rehearsal is supposed to be the last minute opportunity to polish and perfect a performance before it opens to a first night audience. Staging is fine tuned, lines are delivered flawlessly, costumes and props are put in place and the director makes sure no last minute problems exist.

Imagine the nightmare that Lloyd as the director experiences when plates of sardines go missing, doors either won’t close or open, the actor (Steve Hayes) playing the bungling burglar is off getting drunk and half the cast is having an affair with the other half.  There’s more drama going on behind the curtain than in front of it.

Look out for bottles of brandy, bedsheets, bouquets of flowers, boxes, baggage, a baby, bathmats, battleaxes and blood not to mention the required ton of  slamming doors.  Silliness is clearly on parade, in one door and out the other, from the first moment Dotty, a ditzy and determined Jennifer Cody, answers the phone. The cast that also includes Curtis Longfellow, Jayne Ng, Gavin McNicholl, Arlene Bozich, Grace Allyn and Michael Doherty is off and running, literally and figuratively. Vincent Cardinal directs this barrel of fun that quickly rolls out of control, even if there are no monkeys on stage.

For tickets ($12-55), call the CT Repertory Theatre, Storrs at 860-486-2113 or online at Shows are Tuesday to Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees at 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.  The Summer Nutmeg Series will conclude with NEWSIES, July 6-16.

You may never look at sardines quite the same way ever again after they go flying on stage during the hilarious havoc of “Noises Off!” where a sneak peek behind the curtain may prove hazardous to your health.