Now playing at the Knightsbridge Theatre are Audience by Michael Frayn (Noises Off) and The Real Inspector Hound by Tom Stoppard (Shakespeare in Love). These two satirical comedies break the theatrical fourth wall, granting us a glimpse into the thoughts of both the audience and the critics in these theatre-within-theatre pieces.
Review by Pauline Adamek
Scott Dittman directs this matched pair of plays that each explore the blurry boundaries between the audience and the stage.
In Audience the entire play is staged by actors seated in one section of the stalls. Apparently the idea is that the characters in the play are actually watching us, the audience, and expecting a performance. After we have seated ourselves, they troop in and sit opposite us, discussing the proceedings as if they were watching an imaginary play.
As the characters both interact with each other and voice their opinions, the satire emerges from the audience stereotypes that illustrate the foibles of the theatregoing.
Frayn ekes out some amusement from common annoyances, such as latecomers and seating mix-ups.
At the heart of this mild comedy is the presence of the godlike playwright figure (Frederick Dechow), who is nonchalant at first, but soon becomes curmudgeonly, angrily exhorting the “˜audience”™ to pay attention to his “˜play”™.
Audience members of Audience include Knightsbridge company members Beth Yocam, J.C. Gafford, Tara Mazzucca, Allana Barton, Marti Hale, Maria Hudak Smith, Aaron Brenner and junior member Quinlan Fitzgerald as well as Jah Shams, Maureen Sheerin, Kenn Schmidt, and Michael Cassano.
In Stoppard”™s The Real Inspector Hound (1968) two theatre critics in the audience, Birdboot (Dan Cole) and Moon (Brad Upton), are drawn inexorably into the world of a country manor whodunnit. Ostensibly a spoof on Agatha Christie”™s long-running murder mystery The Mousetrap, Stoppard”™s similar play features deliberately expository dialogue and is performed in an exaggerated fashion, with an emphasis on farce and melodrama.
Pontificating in their seats, the critics are preparing to review a new thriller featuring a busty young actress (Karyn O”™Bryant as Felicity) who Birdboot lusts after.Â The onstage play begins in the English manor home of Lady Cynthia Muldoon (Marti Hale), where a handsome stranger (Ian Lauer) who is involved with both Cynthia and Felicity, the wheelchair-bound Major (Kenn Schmidt) and the ditzy but all-knowing housekeeper (Vicki Conrad) discover a dead body in the living room as the fog ominously envelops the Manor house.Â Suddenly, Inspector Hound (Michael Cassano) arrives and the members of the household – and even the theatre critics – become suspects and victims.
As a former theatre critic himself, Stoppard highlights the spectator”™s secret desire to enter the illusory world. So when, to the dismay of his colleague, Dan Cole as the lascivious critic Birdboot crosses the footlights to answer a ringing phone on the set and becomes ensconced in the drama, Moon exclaims nervously, “You”™re turning it into a complete farce!”
Unfortunately, for this critic, both Frayn”™s mild satire of the experience of theatre-going and Stoppard”™s leaden parody of the country-house murder mystery failed to sufficiently entertain.
1944 Riverside Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90039
near the 2 and 5 Freeways.
Runs until Sunday, March 20, 2011
Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 6:00 p.m.
Approx 1 hr 45 minutes, including a 10 minute intermission
$20.00, $18.00 for students/seniors over 65 (I.D. required).
Group rates are available.
Purchase tickets here or call (323) 667 0955