Madness sounds off at Pioneer Theatre

By Christie Franke, Red Pulse Writer

In all of the focus and attention on various artistic activities around the city, we can’t forget we have a benefit to us right here on campus: the Pioneer Theatre Company.

Pioneer Memorial Theatre is Salt Lake City’s regional theater and has made a name for itself in terms of high-quality productions. This season began in September with the production of “My Fair Lady,” and the revelry continues with Michael Frayn’s “Noises Off,” a comedy about a comedy, as seen from behind the scenes.

Frayn once said, “It was funnier from behind than in front and I thought that one day I must write a farce from behind.” This is the result.

Taking the concept of a play-within-a-play, “Noises Off” is about what happens when tempers run high and bedlam ensues within the cast of the naughty play “Nothing On”.

Act 1 begins with a dress rehearsal full of mistakes, missed cues, annoying props and plates of sardines used with true comedic timing. Act 2 continues with the play in production, where things go much worse than the dress rehearsal. Shenanigans fly both on stage and off as personal relationships deteriorate between cast members. In a nod to the difficulty of theater, all of the action is seen from the backstage perspective.

Act 3 is set 10 weeks later, and tensions are at a breaking point. Everyone is bored, anxious to go home and more than ready to see the end of each other. Naturally, bad things happen and the actors have to scramble to ensure that the audience doesn’t notice anything strange. Being a comedy, it’s highly unlikely that the fictional audience won’t notice the difference. The live audience certainly will, but that’s all part of the program. The company promises that “backstage pranks, opening-night jitters and a disappearing cast will have you howling in your seat, rolling in the aisles, and begging for more!”

“Noises Off” premiered in 1982 at the Lyric Theatre in London. The play was met with such success that it moved to the larger Savoy Theatre in London’s West End, and ran until 1987. The company introduced the play to Utah 20 years ago, which makes this year’s performance truly special.

“Noises Off” starts Oct. 30 and runs through Nov. 15. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday evenings; and 2 p.m. for Saturday matinees. Tickets are priced between $22 and $40, and are available at the Pioneer Theatre box office (801-581-6961) and at

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