There's a play within a play at Ragged Edge

September 05, 2004|JENNIFER BRUMMETT

HARRODSBURG - One of the aspects director Richard S. Foley likes about his current project, "Noises Off!," is what the play can convey to an assembly.

"I like being able to show an audience at least some of the goings-on backstage - the inside jokes, how casts get together, how they become friends and all sorts of falling outs," says Foley, who lives in Versailles. "Those involved in a lot of theater have seen things like this - the backbiting, the backhanded comments, the missing actors, the missing props. That sort of thing. Everything we experience is really fun."

Ragged Edge Community Theater's upcoming production, written by Michael Frayn, is a play within a play, Foley says.

"It starts out as a dress rehearsal for a play called 'Nothing On!,' a typical British bedroom farce where someone gets their hands stuck to a plate of sardines and ends up running around with his pants down," he explains.


Act I features Lloyd Dallas (Henry Dowell) as he leads his blundering cast and crew through the final dress rehearsal for "Nothing On!" Dropped lines, missed cues and doors that won't cooperate are all part of the wackiness of this rehearsal. As the act continues, "Noises Off!" begins to mirror "Nothing On!"

"The first act is an overture," Foley notes. "You can see the potential for conflict between the actors."

In Act II, the "Noises Off!" audience can see the performance of "Nothing On!" - from a backstage viewpoint. Everyone is working hard, but the cast and crew have fallen out and irritation levels are high, Foley says. And some of the backstage action mirrors onstage goings-on.

In Act III, the performance is seen from the front, the director notes.

"The backstage personalities are starting to meld with the onstage personalities, and everything goes wrong," he says. "It's chaotic. A train wreck is what it turns out to be."

Foley likes the pacing of "Noises Off!"

"Something that's also fun is the speed and almost balletic quality of the play itself," he explains. "It is very much about getting to a certain tempo and rhythm. The movement becomes dance-like in feel. ... In the second act, when all is silent, they communicate with just movement. That's something that is fun and interesting and unique about this show."

A challenging production

"Noises Off!" has had its challenges, too, Foley says.

"The sheer scope of it is a challenge," he explains. "It is one of the largest and most intricate shows I've ever done.

"We started out rehearsing the play within a play to get that down pat. Then we do each act. We make all the comic bits in each act line up with how the show within a show is moving."

For instance, there is a moment in "Nothing On!" when "Oh, my God!" is scripted. It's said during a "crucial point in backstage discussions," Foley notes. "Finding those moment when the plays interweave is challenging."

The set has been challenging as well, he says. "The whole thing has to spin around 180 degrees. This thing is spinning around - we're not trying to fake it. The audience gets to see the backstage from the actors' points of view."

"Noises Off!" marks Foley's first stint as director at Ragged Edge. He earned a bachelor's degree from Transylvania a few years ago, he says, then spent a couple of years working on his master's in California. Since he returned to Kentucky a few years ago, he has worked on 20-plus shows, mainly in Lexington, as actor, director, designer or stage manager, Foley notes.

"This is the fifth show I've directed since I've been back in the state in the past two years," he explains. "I've been in five different theaters - Georgetown College, Woodford County, high schools, and Studio Players. I'm very itinerant - I go where the work is," Foley adds with a laugh.

He says theater lovers will like "Noises Off!" for its pace and pitfalls.

"If you want to see a train wreck, it's right there for you," he says of the show. "Seriously - it's an incredibly fast-paced, hilarious show about theater."

He pauses.

"Actually, it is just a big train wreck - a comedy about how people dissolve into characters," Foley explains. "Some suffer nervous breakdowns. Being able to see (someone's life going on) that's maybe a little worse off than yours is - that's very, very funny.

"Another great thing about this play - is that it is so totally ensemble. In some respects, it is very mechanical - like a machine. Every part is working, well-oiled, in top, peak performance. Everybody has to give a lot of give and take. And the cast I put together is stellar - they just are so committed to putting on a good show. Regardless of ego ... they are gung ho about it. The production is really good."

If you want to go...

Noises Off! is being presented at 8 p.m. Sept. 10-11 and 17-18 and at 3 p.m. Sept. 12 and 19 at Ragged Edge Community Theater, Main Street, Harrodsburg. Cost: $10/adults, $9/seniors 60 and older, $7/children 12 and under. Tickets : (859) 734-2389.

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