Noises Off: The Sound You Hear is Laughter

Unlike Melancholy Play, where it's crickets chirping.

Other productions of Noises Off around here have suffered from size problems. Too often they were spread across a big stage (like the one at WaterTower Theatre), which ruins the tight timing needed for comedy choreography. Theatre Arlington's small-ish space fits the play to a farthing, putting the audience close enough to catch all the subtle tosses of props and angry looks in the pantomime-heavy second act, but far enough away to take in the whole picture.

Frayn, hailed as the master of English farce after Noises Off premiered in 1982, would go on to write more brilliant plays; one about physicists, Copenhagen, and then the drama Democracy, about German chancellor Willy Brandt. But it's this comedy that's performed most often. Hardly a season goes by without a production of it in a Dallas or Fort Worth theater, and it's a rare treat to see it done as well as they're doing it in Arlington.

Noises Off is so efficient and smart, commenting on the silliness of British sex-coms but showing how hard it is to do one. It's all so complicated, says Noises Off character Gary Lejeune: "We've got bags. We've got boxes. Plus doors. Plus words."

Doors and sardines: Mikaela Krantz, Shane Beeson, Brad Stephens and Sherry Hopkins star in Theatre Arlington's Noises Off.
Doors and sardines: Mikaela Krantz, Shane Beeson, Brad Stephens and Sherry Hopkins star in Theatre Arlington's Noises Off.

Details

Noises Off continues through January 29 at Theatre Arlington. Call 817-275-7661. Melancholy Play continues through February 4 at The Green Zone. Call 214-321-0121 or reserve through upstarttheater.com.

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Giving Frayn his due, let's move words to the top of that list.

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