The Tennessean Review: Noises Off

Nashville Rep’s 'Noises Off' is a comedic tour de farce

by Amy Stumpfl

Michael Frayn’s “Noises Off” has long been revered as the quintessential farce. But for anyone who has ever questioned that fact, Nashville Repertory Theatre’s current staging provides a worthy reminder.

The brilliant show-within-a-show follows the on-stage antics – and backstage bedlam – of a third-rate British acting troupe that’s staging a feeble romp called “Nothing On.” The first act finds the actors struggling to get through what is supposed to be a final rehearsal, and yet barely able to remember their lines. Act II ups the ante, taking us behind the scenes, and revealing the actors’ personal escapades. By the time we reach the third act, the tour is in utter shambles – much to the delight of Saturday’s opening night audience.

Director René D. Copeland (assisted by Matt Parker) demonstrates a sharp eye, steadily building to a satisfying comic crescendo. Of course, Copeland also deserves credit for putting together such a lithe ensemble, which makes the most of every slamming door and sight gag.

Martha Wilkinson is perfectly cast as Dotty, the faded resident diva who is not above chewing a little scenery. Wilkinson is a master of timing, and she works each outrageous line to perfection. But it’s the physicality of Act II, where she really shines.