|Luisa Sermol (left) is Dotty, Max Tachis is Garry and Michelle Skinner is Brooke. (Mark and Tracy Photography)|
This farce is set in England, where a third-rate theatrical troupe is rehearsing and then staging the world premiere of “Nothing On.”
As the action begins, Lloyd (David Crane), the director of “Nothing On,” is trying to get Dotty (Luisa Sermol), housekeeper for a country home, to go through a scene answering the phone and returning to the kitchen. She forgets the receiver, the sardines (which figure prominently in the play) and the newspaper.
Subsequent scenes involve the arrival of Garry (Max Tachis) and Brooke (Michelle Skinner), who are there for an affair. As they tour the house, its owners, played by Ross Neuenfeldt and Heather Orth, return unexpectedly.
Also involved in the action are the stage manager, Tim (David Blackburn); assistant stage manager, Poppy (Brigitte Losey); and another actor, the drunken Selsdon (Lawrence-Michael Arias).
During this act, most of the actual actors try too hard, blunting much of the humor.
In Act 2, after the set has rotated to back stage of “Nothing On,” the actors refine their timing, resulting in some frantically funny moments. By this time in the troupe’s tour, it’s a month after the rehearsal, and nerves are frayed.
Finally, in Act 3, after the set has rotated again to become the set for “Nothing On,” everything has unraveled. Nothing goes right, in part because of sabotage by some jealous actors, resulting in more laughs.
Directed by Jeffrey Lo, most of the actors do well, especially in the latter two acts. Sermol’s Dotty is aptly named, while Skinner’s Brooke is blithely dense. So too is Neunenfeldt as one of the home’s owners.
Orth as the other owner is the one who tries to keep everyone under control. Tachis is amazingly athletic as his Garry becomes the victim of most of the sabotage.
Losey and Blackburn as the harried stage managers also do well.
Christopher Fitzer’s two-level set not only rotates but also features multiple doors – a must for farce with its split-second exits and entrances.
The character-specific costumes are by Mae Heagerty-Matos with lighting by Meghan Souther and sound by Jon Covey.
Running about two and a half hours with one intermission and a pause, “Noises Off” will continue through Oct. 28 at Hillbarn Theatre, 1285 E. Hillsdale Blvd., Foster City.
For tickets and information, visit www.hillbarntheatre.org or call (650) 349-6411, Ext. 2.