"Noises Off!" debuts at Cottage Theatre

With doors opening and closing at a moment’s notice, sardines flying through the air and a nearly silent act that was still chalk-full of storylines, Cottage Grove Theatre began their production of the comedy "Noises Off!" which opened last Friday. 

The play that is directed by Tony Rust is from the 1982 British play of the same name is described as a “British sex-farce.”

“It means they’re all running around and dropping trousers and a girl in her underwear but it’s all polite,” said Rust. 

The play takes place when a set of actors is preparing for their own play which is about to debut. In the first act the audience gets to see the final moments of the cast preparing for the play, in the second act the audience sees backstage drama during one of the productions and in the third and final act the viewer gets to see the play as it finishes up on tour.

“The play within the play is written (poorly) on purpose which is to say it’s not a great play but it’s funny and just kind of stupid and slamming and running around and crazy stuff,” said Rust.

“And they’re having trouble with it in the rehearsal and that’s kind of fun because you’re seeing the trouble that actors have in rehearsals and funny stuff and then they get on each other’s nerves later on in the play and the actors relationships start deteriorating backstage and on stage and so more crazy stuff happens because of all that.”

While the actors are a key part of everything, the real key to the whole production is the set. The set is based around a pair of staircases and more importantly seven different doors that are constantly being opened and closed. 

“The set and the timing, those are the two things that this play is all about. Getting everything going so that it flows,” said Rust. 

In the first and third set the audience is seeing what is happening in the play but in the second set the viewer is transported backstage where they see the cast arguing about in a silent fashion while the play is taking place. For this piece, the set is changed between acts. In other stages, the house revolves around to show that the audience is now on the other side but at the Cottage Grove Theatre the stage crew quickly changes doors and move things around between acts.

“One of the hardest parts about this show really is the set. Figuring out how you’re going to do this set in your space,” said Rust.

Once the set was figured out, the cast then had to get used to going in the correct door and making sure they moved at the right time all while playing multiple characters.

“We’re in tune with each other and we trust each other and it’s such a show about trust. The amount of falling and slapping and sardines falling, it’s a madhouse,” said Sophie Blades who plays the characters of Flavia and Belinda.

"Noises Off!" runs from Thursday-Sunday until February 18.