“Noises Off” – An Old Favorite in a New Towngate Production

By Mario Muscar

“Noises Off” is one of my favorite comedic plays off all time. Let me just say that up front. I don’t want anyone to think that they’re going into reading this with a person who has a completely unbiased opinion. I love this show. It’s the best farce ever written. Physical comedy mixed with clever word play puts it right in my wheelhouse. So when I went to see Towngate Theatre’s production of Michael Frayn’s play, I went in knowing that I would be entertained.

But wait…let’s back up for a minute. Let me tell you why I love this show.

“Once you get it in your nostrils, you never forget it. Sixty years now, and the smell of the theatre still haunts me.”

I first saw “Noises Off” in 1993. It was the film version, and I immediately fell in love with it. How could I not with that cast? I grew up with Christopher Reeve as Superman. He was iconic to me, but I surprisingly had never seen him in anything else. Carol Burnett was one of the funniest people on the planet, and my family (like many families) had watched her show every night when it was on. John Ritter was another comedic genius. He was pure physical comedy perfection. These actors and all the rest sold me on movie adaptation of a play I had never seen. And I laughed. Man, did I laugh.

The next time I saw the show was in the mid-90s. There was a production playing in Morgantown, WV, and I made sure to go see it. It was a fabulous production. The cast was quick and everyone played their parts well. While the movie was fantastic, I recognized something: This show is meant to be seen live on stage.

The most recent viewing of this show came a few years back. My wife and I went to see it at the Pittsburgh Public Theater. It was our first night out together following the birth of our son several months earlier. It was at this viewing that I realized that, as a result of seeing the movie multiple times, I knew many of the lines before they happened. But it only enriched the experience.

“OK, it’s all right for you. You’re sitting out there. We’re up here. We’ve got to do it. Plus we’ve got bags, we’ve got boxes. Plus doors, plus words. You know what I mean?”

So as I sat down to watch Towngate’s production, next to my friend Annie, I knew I would be entertained. The cast does a great job with the show. I have performed with many of these people. I acted with Dee Gregg and Kim Brown in this past season’s performance of “George Washington Slept Here.” Josh DeBeni, Meghan Ross and Vera Barton-Maxwell are members of The Left of Centre Players with me.

The cast did an excellent job keeping the show at a face pace, especially the second act when everything in the play goes off the rails and hilarity ensues. Annie laughed so much throughout the second act that I thought I was going to have to get her to put her head between her legs to regain her breath. Doors slam and sardines appear and disappear as they should, and I left the theater happy to have spent my time again with this old favorite.

I heartily recommend you come see it and enjoy some 2+ hours of laughs. Be prepared to catch your breath.


Evening performances of “Noises Off” take place at 8 p.m. September 22, 23, 29 & 30. Also, a matinee performance takes place at 3 p.m. Sunday, September 24.
Purchase tickets for this show or any Towngate show in advance at www.oionline.com, by calling 304-242-7700, or at the door, if available.