The inspiration for Noises Off, Michael Frayn’s 1982 comedy about a ragtag theater company’s desperate attempts to stay together long enough to finish a tour, famously came from watching a play from backstage. Frayn was in the wings while Lynn Redgrave, among others, performed one of his earlier shows, a farce called The Two of Us, when it hit him — this angle is even funnier than the one the audience sees. Proceeding from that insight, he created what has proved to be one of the most durable and popular comedies in the modern repertoire. On Friday, September 20, the show kicks off a run at Circle Bar B Dinner Theatre that will last nearly until Halloween — ending on October 27, to be exact.
What makes this production special? First off, there’s the outstanding cast, which includes such mainstays of the Circle Bar B barn as William York Hyde (who has also designed and built an ingenious set), Susie Couch, George Coe, and Tiffany Story. The show’s director, Miller James, will play the director in the play, and if that’s not already confusing enough, he will alternate in the role with another CBB regular, Joseph Beck.
This ambitious production will challenge the Circle Bar B team and venue to stretch in several new ways. Ordinarily, Noises Off is performed on a two-story set, but designer Hyde has come up with a linear solution to this problem that will put the fast-paced comic action nearly into the laps of those lucky enough to score front-row seats. In adapting the script for this production, other changes have been made, as well, and, while the play within the play remains set in an English fishing village, choice West Coast locations from the Pacific Northwest to Southern California will substitute for the English countryside in the frame piece. Adding another layer of meta-dramatic action and chaos to Circle Bar B’s special blend of classic farce should make for an exhilarating ride.
On top of all that, there will be a happy dividend for those who follow the performing arts in our area, as not one but two members of the distinguished Bottoms clan will be performing in the show. Joseph Bottoms has taken on the role of Freddy, and his daughter Katherine, who has been in all three of this summer’s shows at Circle Bar B, will play Brooke. What kind of sparks will fly with a father-and-daughter team around? You’ll just have to head up the freeway to Refugio Road to find out. Call (805) 967-1962 or visit circlebarbtheatre.com for tickets.