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Theatre Factory tackles fast-moving farce 'Noises Off'

| Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2010

A play within a play makes for "an hilarious farce" at Theatre Factory in Trafford beginning Friday and running for two weekends, according to Ron Ferrara of Vandergrift, director of the production.

Ferrara, who first saw "Noises Off" by Michael Frayn performed in London in 1985 and acted the role of Freddie/Philip in a New Kensington Civic Theater production in 1989, says the action must be flawless and precise to create the farce the audience will enjoy.

Act 1 is a depiction of a play, "Nothing On," being rehearsed and the theatrical problems encountered by the cast. Act II displays what goes on backstage after several weeks on the road.

"The relationships developed by the cast with each other are seen by the audience as the play 'Nothing On' literally goes on," Ferrara says. "In Act 3, the audience sees the results of these deteriorating relationships as the characters perform 'Nothing On' while on its last legs."

He says this work has presented one of the most difficult challenges of his directing career, and the reward is one of the funniest plays in modern theater. A major challenge was developing the timing of the entrances and exits backstage as the play goes on in Act 2. All of this is accomplished in a choreographed action without any dialogue.

Add to the challenges a set that required Theatre Factory artistic director and resident set designer Scott Calhoon to create the illusion of two levels and include seven doors, a stairway, a window that can be entered and three offstage exits.

"The design completely revolved around the needs of the play, the stock we had available and the space restraints," he says.

Calhoon plays the role of director in the play.

"It's a fun and challenging role, but I sure am exhausted. This just confirms in my mind that I prefer directing -- less stress since you don't have to memorize any lines," he says.

Calhoon says he feels audiences should enjoy several aspects of "Noises Off," including "the usual sexy and/or odd lot of characters that narrowly miss each other on the stage as they pass in and out of an assortment of doors with their own agendas. They also will witness the mishaps of putting a show together and what happens backstage and onstage as it falls apart."

Additional Information:

'Noises Off'

When : Friday-Feb. 28 with performances at 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays

Admission: $16; $14 for senior citizens and students

Where: Theatre Factory, Cavittt Avenue and Third Street, Trafford

Details: 412-374-9200 or Web site

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