A play within a play is the plot for “Noises Off,” a fast-paced tale packed with British wit and humor.
“It is one of the top shows on all the lists of plays for high schools,” said Jenni Merritt, play director and, Friday Harbor High Schools drama teacher. “After reading the script, it’s easy to see why.”
The script has been rated as one of the funniest plays ever written, according to a New York Post theater review.
Performances at the San Juan Community Theatre run Thursday, Jan. 18 through Saturday, Jan. 20 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 21 at 2 p.m. Tickets are available at the theater box office at 360-378-3210 or at www.sjctheater.org. The cost is $17 for adults, $9 for students and $5 student rush at the door only. Thursday is pay-what-you-can night. The cast is all high school students and consists of freshman through seniors, including the backstage crew.
“Noises Off” was written by English playwright Michael Frayn, after he visited the set of a friend’s play. He realized the backstage events and drama were funnier than the actual play being produced.
The play is complete with love triangles, clothing mishaps, fights, and a dysfunctional cast including one character who can’t stay awake, and another whose nose bleeds whenever they see violence, Merritt said.
“I have had [both] people tell me they love me for choosing ‘Noises Off’ because they love the play and laughed so hard they peed their pants, and people who tell me they hate me because they want to be in it,” she laughed.
According to Merritt, there is adult content, and some jokes that will go over young children’s heads, but all in all, it is a show the whole family will love. Those who don’t see it, will regret it.
“People will be talking about the show afterward, you will not want to miss out,” said Merritt.
She chose the script, after “The Wizard of Oz” last year, because she was hoping for a smaller production, but it turned out “Noises Off” isn’t a small play even though the cast is not large. There are nine main roles, and four smaller ones that will be in the audience as well as the stage, to grow the magic, Merritt explained. For example, in one scene a director suddenly pops up from the audience and begins yelling at the actors.
The set is comprised of a revolving two-story building complete with several doors and windows, as well as a deck and staircase built by the theater’s own staff set designers, dubbed “the dream team.”
Merritt explained the painted and polished side of the building reflects what is happening on stage, while the other, raw, unfinished side revolves toward the audience when drama is occurring backstage, primarily during the second act. The cast runs up and down the stairs, in and out of the plethora of doors. They even crawl in and out the windows. To say “Noises Off” is a physically demanding play would be an understatement.
The students responded well to the action, and have taken their jobs seriously, according to Merritt.
“We have such amazing kids in this community, so full of passion for drama,” she said, adding that the students have been not only staying long after rehearsals were scheduled to end but begging her for more practice time on stage.
“I don’t hold them, and they don’t hold themselves to a teenage category,” said Merritt, noting how proud she is of the cast and crew.
“I’m so excited to show this production off to the community,” she said.
For more information visit www.sjctheater.org.