Review: ‘Noises Off ‘ at Giving Tree delivers high-energy entertainment

Noises Off

Giving Tree Theater — through May 6

Zach Kelchen as Freddy in Giving Tree Theater’s ‘Noises Off.’ — photo courtesy of Giving Tree Theater

Bags, boxes, sheets and more than a few plates of sardines create a fun-filled evening at Giving Tree Theater in Marion. Noises Off runs Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through May 6, so grab a cozy spot (tickets start at $15) and settle in for a night of high-energy entertainment.

This lively play requires its actors to be characters in a play within a play. That’s no small feat for any ensemble, but this is an outstanding one. The characters are rehearsing a show that is — well, perhaps not as polished as its director, Lloyd (Greg Smith) would like. Lost lines and forgotten entrances plague the final dress rehearsal, but it is the personal intrigue that drives the play.

In the second act, the audience sees the backstage version of an early performance of the play’s run, including the high energy repartee and personal relationships between its players. Does Lloyd love Brooke (Lauren Galliart) or Poppy (Emma Drtina)? When will the play actually begin? Where is that bottle of Jack Daniels? What is happening between the house caretaker Dotty (Kathryn Bowrey Huang) and Freddy (Zach Kelchen)? Who are the flowers for? What’s happening with that cactus? Where is Selsdon (Scot Hughes), and is he drunk?

Lauren Galliart as Brooke and Gregory M Stoll as Garry in Giving Tree Theater’s production of ‘Noises Off.’ — photo courtesy of Giving Tree Theatre

These questions and more pop up in the most humorous and innovative ways throughout the production. The third act sends the audience back into their front of the house seats to see the humorously disastrous end of the play’s run where relationships escalate and poor Tim (Andrew Barnd) is left to fill in for haphazardly missing actors.

This is an ensemble piece, with each character playing off the other, and the lines pop with near perfect comic execution. Gregory M. Stoll is outstanding in his role as Garry — and after his amazing physical performance, I doubt he needs to go to the gym anytime soon. Belinda, brought to life by Andie Paasch, embodies the essence of a proper British woman trying to support and mollify everyone.

I would be remiss not to applaud the set design for this show. If you have only been to Giving Tree once or twice, you think you’ll know how the theatre will be set up — and you will be wrong. The set design for this play throws out the rule book and flips the stage masterfully. You will find yourself watching upstairs, downstairs, outside and inside. Richie Akers has masterfully designed this set to complement the script and acting.

So, if you’re wondering what sardines, tax evasion and romantic intrigue have in common, be sure to get your tickets to Noises Off — it’s a comedy you don’t want to miss.

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