Nothing’s On

Stage West has set the bar high with the pitch for their current production of Noises Off: “The funniest farce ever written.” University of Calgary graduate Trevor Rueger, who plays the part of Tim Allgood, thinks he can back the claim up.

"While I was [at the U of C] as an undergraduate," Rueger explains, "we did a unit in one of the Dramatic Lit classes on farce. When we got to Noises Off, which was the end of the unit, we all read the play and went, ‘yes, this is the funniest farce ever written.’"

The play, penned by English author Michael Frayn in 1982, follows a small theatre company’s touring production of Nothing On, from the unsuccessful dress rehearsal to the final disastrous performance. However, the real action is in the interactions between the actors, the director and the stage manager in-between scenes. Indeed, the set is turned around and the audience taken "backstage" for the second act, when the relationships between the actors have begun to sour. In the final act, which is the last performance of the production run, the audience sees the train wreck that Nothing On has become.

The brilliance of the play lies in the plausibility of the problems encountered in the production. There is a joke about a doorknob coming off one of the doors on stage, and Rueger reveals that it came off too early during a preview performance–to the consternation of the cast, who had to improvise around it. Rueger also points out that Nothing On has a 12-week run, exactly the same length as a Stage West contract.

The parallels with his own theatrical experience don’t end there.

"In act three of our production, there’s a section where actors get off track in terms of the lines, and nobody knows exactly where they are in terms of the text and I did a show once where that actually happened," recalls Rueger. "It was myself and another actor, who I won’t name, on stage and he got completely off track on about page four, and we wandered around the script, it was just an absolute nightmare."

Noises Off runs until Nov. 16 at Stage West. For tickets call 243-6642.

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