Peg and I used to enjoy the plays at Harlequin reaching back nearly twenty years. We loved the dramatic productions as well as the musical revues and combinations like Rock N Roll Twelfth Night. Over the last few years we have been viewing more Seattle and Tacoma area live productions. It was nice renewing our acquaintance with the Harlequin. We felt right at home instantly and constantly had smiles on our faces once we took our seats and began reading the program.
Of the ten actors on stage for Noises Off, five of them either have acted at Theater Schmeater, or Book-It Repertory Theatre, which are two of our favorite Puget Sound theaters. Add in actors’ connections to Village Theatre, Taproot Theatre, ACT, and Seattle Shakespeare Company and you have pretty much the rest of our northern Puget Sound stage production haunts. I’m sure many of them have also acted in Tacoma and Lakewood.
Synopsis: The show must go on . . . For a British acting troop there hasn’t been enough time for the final dress rehearsal at the Grand Theatre. They don’t know their blocking and besides there are various emotional relationships onstage and backstage. Act One is the set-up for the pratfalls and laughter to come. It involves a wonderful set giving the illusion of a country manor. Act Two, thanks to the stage turntable design, shows us the backstage activities. Act Three unleashes the farce and is virtually non-stop laugher.
The design team did a fantastic job: Jeannie Beirne (Scenic), Darren Mills (Costume), Mark Tomason (Lighting), Gina Salerno (Sound), Gerald b. Browning (Properties), and Maggie Doyle (Stage Manager).
I really appreciated the glass paneled, swing-out windows by the window seat, which allowed the audience to look out from the front view and in from the backstage view out onto the main stage and the action there. It gave easy access to the house for the multiple buglers.
The backstage view looked realistic. It gave us all a nice illusion of the on-going production while real life was falling and flailing about behind the scenes.
A special thanks to Katya Davida, the dialect coach. We were able to understand the accents and still have the feeling of them being British.
The most intriguing credits of the cast belong to Helen Harvester. As if being a Fulbright Scholar and having a BA in Drama from Vassar College wasn’t enough to note my interest, she also has an MA from the Boris Shchukin State Theater Institute in Moscow, Russia. My cousin, Lavinia Hart, teaches directing and drama at Wayne State University (commuting from Lakewood to Detroit). She spent time in Russia and was amazed at the training the actors go through as well as the repertory involvement which lets them earn income from their theatrical skills and not work a day job.
I have to mention Rebecca Cort, she played the empty headed, star in the making, girl friend. She popped, she strutted, she turned her head and shook or flipped her long brown hair. She kept a chirpy attitude and was true to her character. She never failed to make me laugh as she stole scene after scene from the British acting troop. She was like a female Curly Howard.
We look forward to more plays and reviews at Harlequin.