Seeing is believing, the oft-quoted idiom states. Such is the case for Gibbons Drama’s newest production, Noises Off, which Kevin Ferguson calls “among the most challenging and complex” shows he has directed in his 14 years as the program’s theater director.
In the same breath, he says the student actors and technicians “have worked extremely hard and performed beyond expectations.” In turn, the students deliver a production of this side-splitting farce that, Ferguson says “ is as louder, faster and funnier a production of this type of show as you are likely to experience in a high school setting…” The play opened on November 7 and runs throughout November 17.
The play, a first at Gibbons, chronicles the hilarious slapstick capers of actors in a touring company whose antics comically spillover from backstage to onstage during the tour. Comedy is “extremely hard,” notes Ferguson and to execute correctly, it takes precise comic timing and physical agility.
That is made even more complicated in Noises Off, which features tricky entrances and exits by the cast. And one character takes a tumble down a flight of stairs!
The bottom line is Noises Off is not easy to pull off. So why is now the time to do this play?
Ferguson rattles off several reasons. Chief among them is living out the program’s goal of continuously raising the bar to produce challenging shows. Additionally, the play “is a true ensemble piece,” Ferguson notes.
As such, it epitomizes the meaning of ensemble acting, which is a hallmark of Gibbons Drama, he explains. Additionally, he notes that he has worked steadily with the student actors who have performed together for the last four years, making them the perfect cast to do this play.
"The students deliver a production of this side-splitting farce that “is as louder, faster and funnier a production of this type of show as you are likely to experience in a high school setting…” says Kevin Ferguson.
Sean Sabye ’20, who plays Garry Lajeune, says the main challenge of the play is timing, but the reward comes when the timing is in sync, “turning the cast into a well-oiled comedy machine.”
Cecilia Touzon ’20, who plays Belinda Blair, says for her the issue was “memorizing all the lines and keeping the pacing.” Still, she notes, “it is immensely rewarding to hear the audience laugh.”
The play also is demanding from a set perspective. The technical theater department, however, has the skills and talent to meet the challenge, notes Ferguson, who described the set, as “a masterpiece,” and “a leading player” in the show.
It features seven working doors, an upper walkway, and a staircase. Even more impressive is the fact that the set rotates from the façade of a faded English Tudor home to the backstage of a theater and then back again.
It takes 16 students about 15 minutes to rotate the set, which 31 students and two adults built over seven weeks, says Gibbons Technical Theatre Director Karestin Harrison.
“The biggest challenge was the rotation,” she explains. “Initially, I thought we would build a turntable, but realistically that wasn’t possible and landed on the decision to have it break apart into four sections that can spin.”
The set also must be structurally sound, so when doors slam, the whole set doesn’t sway or bounce, Harrison says, and adds, “I hope the audience can recognize and realize students who have no true construction background built it from the ground up.”
What audience members also will appreciate is that Noises Off will have them laughing from lights out to curtain calls and beyond.
Please visit www.cghsnc.org/arts/theater for information about tickets and remaining performance dates. A 7 p.m. performance on Sunday, November 17, recently was added.