"Noises Off" deserves loud applause; Farce: The show is a first-rate production in a delightful theater, with an outstanding cast that acts with split-second timing.


In his 1982 farce, "Noises Off," novelist-playwright Michael Frayn gives us a hilarious, behind-the-scenes view of a second-rate British theater troupe preparing a second-rate show in January, opening in February and going on tour in March.

But there is nothing second rate about 2nd Star's production of the show at Bowie Theater in Whitemarsh Park. Even the theater is a delightful place with a large stage and comfortable seating for 150 people.

Charles Maloney has gathered a totally professional troupe and directs them with split-second timing as the chaos of backstage romances, rivalries and arguments expands through each act and the traffic onstage increases accordingly.

Jerry Gietka, as director Lloyd Dallas, ranks at the top of this cast by sheer emotional force and extraordinary timing. His mounting frustration with an incompetent cast rises to an angry peak that nearly shakes the rafters.

Marty Hayes is nearly flawless as Selsdon Mowbray, the often-inebriated, forgetful, hearing-challenged veteran actor immersed in his past. Nearly as funny is Heather Tuckfield as the self-absorbed sexpot Belinda Blair, who spends most of her time on stage looking fetching in her underwear and gartered nylons as she meditates.

Deborah Pferdeort is delicious as the leading lady, beleaguered housekeeper Dotty Otley. Her character is required to flub the same lines over and over, and Pferdeort manages to add fresh comic nuance each time she stumbles over, "Am I in Spain? No, I'm not in Spain." And adds the last time, "I'm in agony. That's where I am."

Rosalie Skrabak Daelemans is well cast as Brooke Ashton, the aging star who sponsors the play and buys herself a role.

Kudos also go to Lynne Wilson, who designed the revolving set and Corporate Creations, which built it. The crew turns the set so interestingly that the set almost becomes a performer.

"Noises Off" runs on weekends through the end of the month. For information and reservations, call 410-798-7001 or 301-205-0502.

Pub Date: 2/11/99

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