Comedy Noises Off at Burien Actors Theatre is funniest farce ever written

by Tim Takechi

“Noises Off,” considered one of the funniest farces ever written, works as a piece of comedic brilliance because of how difficult it is to spin chaos into something so side-splittingly beautiful.

Given Burien Actor’s Theatre’s recent history, it’s fitting they should be organizing their own chaos by opening “Noises Off” in an abandoned store in Burien where Staples used to be.

That’s right. When the Burien Annex suffered considerable damage after a tragic fire on Dec. 10, Burien Actor’s Theatre became homeless. But that didn’t stop them from continuing their season. As any veteran of the stage can attest to, “the show must go on.” Even in a cleared out former department store.

“It doesn’t matter where we perform this show,” says Jessica Stepka, who plays the bubbly Belinda Blair. “This show will always be great because the cast and crew we have are hilarious.”

This classic 1982 farce by English playwright Michael Frayn tells of a group of amateur actors desperately trying to put on a dreadful sex comedy called “Nothing On” despite forgotten lines, cues being missed, props not being put in the right place, interpersonal drama and egos clashing left and right. Performers like Jessica dream of being in “Noises Off” because every experienced actor can relate to what’s going on.

“’Noises Off’ is one of my favorite shows. I’ve always had it on my bucket list of shows I have to do before I die. The comedy is still relevant, funny and connects with the audience. This show has staying power,” Jessica says.

Phillip Keiman, the only actual Brit in the cast, plays Lloyd Dallas, the director of the ill-fated farce. Phillip’s character only has one night to bring a complicated door-slam heavy comedy to life. Phillip completely understands the level of discontent Lloyd must be feeling under these circumstances.

“In this particular moment, he’s very frustrated. A director has a very specific image of the show in his head. If what he sees on the stage doesn’t match what he’s picturing, things are going to get real tense,” Phillip says.

The actual director of the show, Marc “Mok” Moser, has his process down to a science. With characters running everywhere, props changing hands faster than quarters at a casino and actors having to switch between playing their characters in the show and their characters in the show within the show, Mok’s director notebook looks more like a quantum physics dissertation than a stage script.

“This has been a delightful learning experience for us all. I’ve never had to build a show like this before,” Mok says. “I would call this the Hamlet of blocking. This is geographical micromanagement. Everybody and everything has to be in the right place at the right time.”

Mok has had to resort to cutting and pasting pieces of paper to organize his blocking, creating his own terminology to communicate to his actors what he wants them to do and providing them with mnemonics to help them remember their lines and blocking. It also doesn’t help that BAT didn’t know where they would be performing “Noises Off” till the first week of February. So Mok had the unenviable task of having to reblock this behemoth of a show multiple times before BAT finally settled on their current space.

“It’s very much like Sudoku. The playwright will tell you a character gives another character a prop, but not how. I have to figure out where all the pieces go while taking into consideration the lighting, set design and where the characters have to be next,” Mok says.

Whew. While BAT’s “Noises Off” isn’t in a traditional theatre space, the cast and crew will stop at nothing to ensure their audiences are rolling in the aisles laughing to their heart’s delight when the curtain finally opens. It goes to show that no matter where you are, theatre is all about the basic elements: performers, a story and an audience to soak it all in.

“’Noises Off’ is a love letter to the art of the farce, if such art can be found,” Mok eloquently states.

“Noises Off” runs from February 21 to March 23, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays as 2 p.m. The show will perform at 14907 4th Avenue S., Burien, WA 98168. General admission is $20 and seniors/students are $17. Tickets can be purchased at burienlittletheatre.org or by contacting tickets@burienactorstheatre.org.

(February 11, 2014 - Burien, WA) – Burien Actors Theatre (formerly Burien Little Theatre) presents the comedy Noises Off, which performs Feb. 21 through March 23. Due to a fire last December at Burien Actors Theatre, the show has gone on the road, or just down the road, to 14907 4th Ave. S.W. in Burien (the former Staples site).

Noises Off is frequently called “the funniest farce ever written.…” A manic troupe of actors struggles to tour their sex comedy Nothing On amidst a spiraling chaos of flubbed lines, errant sardines and backstage intrigue. Noises Off will have you rolling in the aisles with laughter.

The show is suitable for ages 13-plus due to occasional adult language.

Ticket prices range from $7 to $20. Check out special opening weekend ticket deals. All deals and discounts are exclusive of each other. For tickets or other information, go online to www.burienactorstheatre.org or call 206-242-5180.

Burien Actors Theatre regular performance space is undergoing repairs for the damage caused by the December 10, 2014 fire, with completion anticipated sometime in April.

THE CAST

Marc “Mok” Moser is stage directing the show. Also featured are the diverse acting talents of Kevin Finney (Selsdon/Burglar), Phillip Keiman (Lloyd), Thomas Maier (Frederick/Philip), Helen Roundhill (Brooke/Vicki), Natalie Schmidt (Poppy), Jessica Stepka (Belinda/Flavia), Christian Ver (Garry/Roger), Steve West (Tim) and Rochelle Wyatt (Dotty/Mrs. Clackett). As much a character in the show as the actors is the Noises Off set designed by Albie Clementi.

Photographs and Cast Bios available upon request; please contact Maggie Larrick at 206-246-0088.

ABOUT BURIEN ACTORS THEATRE

Exciting live theater has been a tradition in Burien since 1955. Incorporated in 1980 as Burien Little Theatre, Burien Actors Theatre (BAT) has been a leading producer of quality live theater serving residents of the Seattle and south Puget Sound areas.

Burien Actors Theatre gives audiences an intriguing and invigorating theatre experience with unusual and fantastical productions they can’t get on a DVD or see anywhere else. The company’s mission is to treat audiences to productions of the highest artistic integrity that excite, engage and involve both the local and expanding theatrical communities in the Puget Sound region.

BAT is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) entity and operates on revenue from ticket sales, donations, grants, sponsorships and volunteers.

TICKET PRICES AND PACKAGES
Tickets at the Box Office:

General Senior/Student
All Shows: $20.00 $17.00
OPENING NIGHT: Only on Feb. 21, get $5 off each ticket in the purchase if you bring us your “favorite” sardine recipe. Good only for purchases at the door.
DATE NIGHT: Only on Feb. 22 get two-for-one tickets: Get two tickets for the price of one.
SEVEN DOLLAR SUNDAY: Only on Feb. 23, all tickets are just $7.00! Remember, Sunday is a matinee performance only.
Dinner and a Show Package: This package includes a two-course meal at Mark Restaurant & Bar plus a ticket to the show; cost is $35 per person. Contact the Mark at 206-241-6275.

We encourage our readers to comment. No registration is required. We ask that you keep your comments free of profanity and keep them civil. They are moderated and objectionable comments will be removed.