It’s never a bad idea to bring back a hit. And if you’re A Noise Within, Pasadena’s new repertory theater company you’ve had a number of those to choose from over the years. The company has revived successful productions of Waiting for Godot and Arthur Miller’s The Price in recent years, and for just two weeks, the company has brought back Michael Frayn’s evergreen Noises Off. It looks great, especially in their new Pasadena home. The backstage/onstage comedy calls for a comparatively large set involving two stories that can be seen from both front and behind with 7 doors, a stairwell and all those boxes, bags, and plates of sardines. To look at it, you might not realize that the set for the revival is the same one used in the troupe’s former Glendale home. It looks huge by comparison when not wedged at an angle into a much smaller space. Here with room to spread out, the show seems larger and more physical than before.
Of course, the play is supremely funny. I’d seen the show just recently in a London revival at the Old Vic directed by Lindsay Posner with a number of well-known British actors. To tell the truth, outside of the understandable issue of accents, A Noise Within’s current production was significantly better. Directors and founders Geoff Elliott and Julia Rodriguez-Elliott have wisely taken a bit broader approach that helps offset some of the more mechanical aspects of Frayn’s staging. There is an immense amount of stage direction here and all of it must look unplanned, which can distract from character development and other important qualities. But Geoff Elliott’s portrayal of director Lloyd Dallas bristles with an unspoken rage and stays completely out of sight for nearly all of the first Act making his eventual arrival from the dark all that more pronounced. Emily Kosloski meanwhile gives Brooke a more clueless edge that heightens the comedy of her character’s complete lack of improvisational skills. Of course, it’s an ensemble cast with many other strong turns and as is usually the case with ensemble comedies, it succeeds mostly because everyone onstage appears to be having as much fun as everyone in the audience ends up having. So, if you haven’t yet seen the show, or are ready to revisit an excellent comedy, you don’t need to get on an airplane, but you do need to act before January 15.