In a hurry to hide something Quick, Lucy! Don't "fill" your blouse with missing cherries from the confection assembly line! Stuff it, girl!
Although "farce" theatre has its origins in France, many would argue that it has been perfected by the English. Few would disagree that whilst naming influential forces within the world of farce theatre, it would be appropriate to include many works produced by British entertainers, especially the members of Monty Python. Today, however, it is entirely possible that the bulk of our comedic diet, as Americans, is made up of farce, usually in the form of sitcoms, but also prevalent upon the stage. We seem to have a taste for the outrageous, hysterical episodes of characters caught in ridiculous circumstances. A prime example of farce upon the stage can be seen in Michael Frayn's play, "Noises Off."
"Noises Off," is a play whose basic plot entails the misadventures of a struggling, low-budget theatre troupe attempting to pull together and make their performance of "Nothing On," a success. In the first act, we see the various cast members acting out what happens when a wealthy couple trying to avoid the taxman return home from overseas, but without letting anyone-especially the IRS-know. Meanwhile, their home, which is up for let, is being-shall we say explored-by others who don't suspect anyone of being home. This comedy of errors, so cleverly done and well-thought out, makes us forget for a moment that we are watching a play within a play. However, we are soon reminded that the actors on stage are playing actors. It is during this opening act that we see the various relationships between the cast members, who are smitten with whom, and exactly where all those plates of sardines go.
In the next act, we see another performance of "Nothing On," only this time with completely different chemistry between the cast members. What began, in act one, as a rather jumbled, stressed, but good-natured set of people, several of whom were involved romantically, has devolved into a group with growing suspicion and hurt feelings due to a series of misunderstandings.
By act three, the confusion has led to outright hostility between the majority of the cast, and we are left where we began: with a plateful of sardines.
Within the next few pages, please take a look at set design for "Noises Off."
Act I: We need to start with the characters. Since this "play within a play" happens solely within the theatre during rehearsal and show time, the characters will always be dressed like their characters.
Dotty Otley: A woman in her early forties, dressed like a housekeeper, with a mid-calf length dress in a drab color, a full-length apron, sensible shoes. Her hair must be pulled back.
Flavia Brent: A woman in her late thirties, dressed like a yuppie. Tasteful neutral clothes, jewelry.
Roger Tramplemain: A man in his late thirties, dressed in a smart suit.
Burglar: A man in his early sixties, gray hair, wearing a black turtleneck, black leggings, black shoes and black gloves, along with a black ski mask, pulled away from his face.
Vicki: A pretty, dark-haired woman in her early twenties, wearing a suit appropriate for working in an office.
Philip Brent: A man in his la