There was plenty of laughter to go around the Sexson Auditorium during Oct. 22's afternoon performance, despite the sparse attendance.


There was plenty of laughter to go around the Sexson Auditorium during Oct. 22’s afternoon performance, despite the sparse attendance.

“Noises Off” is, to sum it up simply, is a play within a play. “Nothing On” is the name of the show, where the actors are in rehearsal before their world premiere set in 1994.

As the director Duke Stroud put it before the start, it is “two plays for the price of one.”

All of the real humorous drama happens “behind-the-scenes” in the second act after intermission, the first act being solely dedicated to setting up the second with hints of what is to unfold.

Coming in without knowing the story, it was at first confusing as to what the whole play was about.

The first act, the “rehearsal,” had an overly dramatic and slapstick story involving doors and improbable coincidences and ridiculous stock characters.

It bought few laughs, mostly half-hearted chuckles, and was unclear on what it was supposed to accomplish beyond hinting at the running tensions between characters, both romantic and frustrated.

It is not till the second act that it all becomes clear that Act I meant to show how the play was supposed to be enacted to better make fun of how it all falls apart on an entropic scale.

The set is the interior of a typical looking English home, fully lit, with two levels connected by a staircase and many doors.

In the second act, the stage is swiveled around so that the backside, the behind-the-scene look, is presented to the audience.

It is here that all the blunders, love triangles and miscommunications occur between the actors.

The overlapping complications between them escalates into vengeance and petty violence that involves an ax, a cactus, tied shoelaces and a lot of falling.

Knowing how the play is supposed to go due to the rehearsal, it was absolutely hilarious how the actor’s infighting with each other got mixed in with their characters and disrupted the fabric of the story.

Their on-the-spot improvising of lines and attempts to cover up inconsistencies had the audience crying with laughter.

It was a pleasant surprise how the humor did not fade, but continued to escalate as more and more troubles pile up till the end the very end; everything from tossing a pants-less old man out the window, to two supposed burglars giving a toast to one another for the want of not knowing what to do, to the lead character falling down the stairs.

Initially the play seemed boring and ridiculous, but that was because I made the mistake of assuming that the story was about the rehearsal being performed by the actors.

The real story, however, is about the “actual” performance, and how the actors’ dramas behind-the-scenes get in the way with the characters they were supposed to be portraying.

Despite some minor annoyances, such as the strange mix of English and American accents, the play within the play was immensely entertaining. It did what it set out to accomplish—to make us laugh.

The final performance of “Noises Off,” in the Sexson Theatre on Oct. 22, did not let down the audience. Performed by PCC students, “Noises Off” was a play inside a play written by Michael Frayne and directed by PCC instructor Duke Stroud. (Charles Winners / Courier)

The final performance of “Noises Off,” in Pasadena City College’s Sexson Theatre Oct. 22, did not let down the audience. Performed by PCC students, “Noises Off” was a play inside a play written by Michael Frayne and directed by PCC professor Duke Stroud. (Charles Winners / Courier)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.