Those who enjoy slapstick antics of Abbott and Costello will appreciate "Noises Off," a British farce that opened in the Pardoe Theater at BYU Thursday night. This comedy team numbers nine, instead of two, and the jokes are likewise multiplied.
Many in the audience were laughing out loud at the sight gags - falling trousers, squished plates of sardines, slamming doors and tangled telephone cords - while others were opening their mouths only to yawn. It seems this one's a matter of taste.
Michael Frayn's play-within-a-play has been deftly directed by Max Golightly, and the actors play it to the hilt. Especially good is Dennis Kelsch as the director, by turns omnipotent, patronizing, and understandably a nervous wreck as he tries to get an inept cast to rehearse the show correctly just hours before it opens its "world premiere, prior to national tour!"
The second act shows the goings-on backstage among actors who must vent their anger at each other without making a sound. The pantomime is well-done, conveying feelings between cast members and eliciting laughs from the audience.
Denise Dinsdale makes a perfect Brooke Ashton, an airhead actress whose total repertoire consists of blinking her eyes, wiggling her hips, and squealing. Todd W. Mories plays Gary Lejuene, a dull fellow who never completes a sentence, leaving everything at "Well, you know."
Roger Charles Benington gives a notable performance as Frederick Fellowes, a truly comical character.
B.R. Slocum is excellent as Selson, an inebriated actor who gives a low-key but hilarious performance. Also in the cast are Bruce Davies as the stage manager, Gwen Dutcher as his assistant, Kristin Wahlquist as the uppity Belinda Blair, and Debra Woods Andrus as the befuddled housekeeper.
There is nothing at all subtle about this British humor, and it may not suit all tastes. But "Noises Off" is a clever piece, well performed _ whether or not you appreciate slapstick.