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Noises Off: Opening Tuscarora’s Drama Department to Comedy

The set of Noises Off. Photo credit: Brad Pierce.
The set of Noises Off. Photo credit: Brad Pierce.
The set of Noises Off. Photo credit: Brad Pierce.

By Sean Cassar

At 7 p.m. on November 21st, laughter radiated from the Tuscarora auditorium. THS’ performance of Michael Frayn’s Noises Off opened the community’s eyes to the drama department’s creativity and skill. In the past, fall plays have consisted of seriousness and tragedies, but this year marks the beginning of a new era, one of laughter and smiles.

Noises Off is a British comedy that was created in 1982 to depict the difficulties that transpire during a drama production. Over the past 31 years, the play has been remade countless times. It was even transformed into a movie before arriving at the school.

Looking at the performance alone, the show, while not perfect, was a hit. It began with a short introduction that lightened the mood and incorporated familiar places and people. As the play formally began, the audience was presented with seemingly meaningless jokes that distracted the viewer from the events and left many confused. But as the play progressed, the viewers discovered that the jokes actually played a predominant role in the the storyline. These jokes, while at first comparable to the entertainment of a “knock knock” joke, transformed into “knee slappers” that left many crying from laughter.

Taking the crowd on a humorous rollercoaster ride, the actors embodied the characters well. Terrific acting by Stephen Coakley, Arianna Dudley, Ben Fuhrmann, Sean Phillips, Ryan Phillips, Darcy Pierce, Jessica Matera, Colin Muldoon, and Carly Smith held the play together. They used improvisation as well as body language to indirectly express the personalities of each character. The indirect observations made by the crowd added context to many of the jokes and storyline.

The visual backdrop of the play was incredible. It was the most complex and creative set in the school’s history. Not only was it two stories high, it was double sided, allowing the characters to completely change scenery. When the set changed from a small British house to the backstage, the crowd‘s eyes were opened to a more personal connection between the characters and opened to . For a high school production, a transforming set is impressive and rare.

While the humor and acting were incredible, the show did have a few downfalls. The humor at some parts was extremely repetitive and predictable. This did not, however, take away from the comical aspect of the play.

The dialogue was hard to understand at parts due to the rough English accents. The accents did give some historical background to the play, but for the most part distracted and took away from the performance.

Noises Off was a great addition to the Tuscarora drama department. It was different, entertaining, inventive, and simple. It showed a different side of the program and its participants, pushing them past their comfort zones to assume new positions and responsibilities. This transformation not only influences the current performances, but foreshadows the ambition and success of THS theater still to come.

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