“Noises Off” sounds off with success

Jordan Williams, Staff Reporter

This past Sunday, audience members huddled together in the IU Southeast Robinson Theatre and witnessed the delightful melodrama of the production efforts involved in making a play come to life in the campus production of Michael Frayn’s 1982 original, “Noises Off.”

The play, directed by IU Southeast associate professor of theater, Jim Hesselman, explores the unintentional theatrics happening behind the scenes in the meta-fictional production of “Nothing On.”

For Hesselman, part of the appeal behind choosing to produce a play like “Noises Off” lies in the unique voice it offers.

“People are just not writing three act plays anymore,” Hesselman said. “The playwright wrote this play after seeing another play he had written from the backstage perspective at a point when everything was going wrong.”

The backstage mishaps Hesselman references are largely why “Noises Off” is able to stand out as a production, but he acknowledges that to be able to pull off such a concept, Frayn needed to make all of the behind-the-scenes drama seem justified.

“In order to do this he had to get the audience familiar with one act of a farce called “Nothing On,” and so there is a lot of repetition so that the audience can know what is supposed to happen, by the time disaster strikes,” Hesselman said.

While the comedic, situational drama of “Nothing On” was intentional, the stress-ridden anxieties of piecing it together proved to be a concrete source of entertainment.

Theatre goers watched as the fictional cast and crew members ran about the stage, trying to cater to the escalating demands of a frustrated director. The off set relationships and impatient means of directing were grounds for chaos and also a great source of entertainment.

In theory, the meta humor surrounding the idea of a play within a play may fall flat. However, the near riotous laughter that swelled throughout the auditorium and the upbeat chatter between audience members during the show’s intermission were indications of widespread acclaim for the show.

John Robert, a senior in film production at IU Bloomington, attended the play.

“The play wasn’t exactly what I expected and I am really happy to see it doing things that other plays haven’t really tried,” Robert said.

Robert is familiar with the on-set chaos that can occur and disrupt the rhythm of things, which is why he found himself relating with the aggravation of the director throughout.

“In film, it’s way too easy for things to just fall apart and I think that this applies to stage plays as well, so I found myself relating with the director for the majority of the first act,” Robert said.

With the first weekend’s showing wrapping up, “Noises Off” received standing ovations every night. According to Hesselman, he and his cast and crew members are very pleased but are hoping for a bit more for show’s final performances.

Hesselman is hoping attendance spikes for these showings because it is the last chance for the IU Southeast community to catch a showing of the production.

“I would love to see a couple full houses because the actors, and crew have worked so hard for three months and only get 8 times to perform this incredibly difficult piece for an audience,” Hesselman said.

For ticket details, contact the Ogle Center front office at 812-941-2525 this week between the hours of 8:00 AM – 11:00 PM.

Note: This story was initially published online on Nov. 11. Changes to the body copy were made for the Nov. 16 issue, and the online story was updated to reflect those changes.