There are many stars in Geoff Elliotts accomplished staging of Michael Frayns oft-produced backstage farce, but the ones that shine brightest may be the stagehands, who, between acts, hand-swivel Adam Lillibridges elaborate, two-tiered living room set which represents the multitiered living room set of a play within the play, being performed somewhere in the British provinces inside out, so that the faux living room transforms into backstage directly behind the set, where the actors await their entrances. This is no easy feat, as the set almost touches the theater ceiling, but on opening night, they pulled it off in under 12 minutes, earning a round of applause from those standing by to watch. Frayns farce is well known by now a theater production of a farce on the rails, with a world-weary director (Elliott) whos more than ready to move on to his next production, Richard III; a needy cast, one of whom (Stephen Rockwell) keeps insisting on psychological explanations for whats obviously a series of gags; another (Emily Kosloski, playing a dim-witted sex bomb) who keeps losing her contact lenses; and an elderly resident alcoholic (Apollo Dukakis) who creates dramatic tension from the question of whether or not hell even show up to make his entrance. As the play-within-the-play continues its tour, in a production that grows increasingly chaotic, the ineptitude gets compounded by sexual dalliances among director, cast and crew that leave a trail of bruised feelings. Elliotts touch is both gentle and conservative, sidestepping many low-comedy sex gags that have accompanied other productions. It is nonetheless skillfully rendered, with lovely performances also by Deborah Strang, Mikael Salazar, Lenne Klingaman, Jill Hill and Shaun Anthony. A Noise Within, 234 S. Brand Blvd., Glendale; in rep, call for schedule; through Dec. 20. (818) 240-0910, ext. 1.
Sat., Nov. 14, 8 p.m.; Sun., Nov. 15, 2 p.m.; Sun., Nov. 22, 7 p.m.; Sat., Nov. 28, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 6, 2 & 7 p.m.; Dec. 9-11, 8 p.m.; Fri., Dec. 18, 8 p.m.; Sat., Dec. 19, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 20, 2 p.m., 2009