Thursday, June 27, 2019

Langham Court to close out season with a heap of British humour

June 12, 2019 by Katy Weicker, staff writer

Local community theatre company Langham Court Theatre is preparing the final show of their 90th season, Noises Off. For director Don Keith, the shenanigans of the 1982 British comedy about a theatre troupe on the final night of rehearsals before the big opening of their show hit close to home.  

Noises Off, I laugh at it, because it’s what goes on backstage in any production, magnified a hundred times,” Keith says. “But it is appropriate because it’s about actors. It’s about putting on a play, it’s about the things that happen, and experienced theatre-goers, experienced actors will understand everything. One of the interesting things we discovered about this play is that the things that happen in the play are happening to us in real life right now. It seems to be an ironic parallel that we’re working under a very strange world.” 

Noises Off explores the mishaps of a theatre troupe on the final night of rehearsals before their big opening night (photo by David Lowes).

Keith adds that while he doesn’t “worry about it,” per se, he hopes the audience is aware that these things don’t go on to the extreme presented in the show. According to Keith, the show is a British farce to the nth degree, something the team discussed at length from early on because of the nature of the genre.

“It’s a different kind of comedy, a different kind of farce,” says Keith, “the language, the actions, the staging.”

Although the movie adaptation of the play was set in the United States, Langham has decided to keep it set as originally intended in England. And while the farce-within-a-farce is chock-a-block full of British humour, Keith insists there is substance to it.

“It doesn’t take itself very seriously, but on the other hand, it does take itself very seriously,” he says. “It’s probably one of the hardest plays you could ever imagine to put on.”

According to Keith, the show was written in a very specific way that makes it very challenging to put on without following original playwright Michael Frayn’s stage directions.

“It’s very specific with timing, with characters… there’s two plays going on at the same time. It’s a bit of a puzzle to put together,” Keith says. 

Still, Keith is confident the puzzle is complete, although he admits to one other unique challenge.

“The set for this production is one of the most complicated and enormous—it’s a big set,” he says. “It’s two levels with eight doors.”

Keith also has the challenge of the set needing to be able to revolve to reveal the backstage area. This challenging set means the cast of this show, which is a combination of newcomers to Langham and seasoned performers with the company, has to maintain high energy throughout the performance.

“It’s up and down the stairs, back and forth—this is a good play to get in real good shape,” he jokes. “I said at the very beginning the requirement is they have to be able to hop up two flights of stairs backwards. That’s literally—it doesn’t happen, but it almost does.”

Stamina and set challenges aside, Keith says the show makes him laugh every time he sees it, and he hopes it puts everybody in a great mood. 

“Nobody wants to go to the theatre to have a bad time. Whether you’re audience or an actor, you want to have fun and celebrate the craft,” says Keith. “So, I guess that’s the appeal of [the show], is that it really is a very appropriate, very funny, a summer-like silliness, but it’s a real celebration of our history, our 90 years.”

Noises Off
Various times, until Saturday, June 22
Various prices (student discount available), Langham Court Theatre
langhamtheatre.ca

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