Slapstick and Flying Sardines: FMCT brings Noises Off back to the stage
Classic comedy depicts the follies of theatre and the people who make it
When Fargo Moorhead Community Theatre (FMCT) first staged Noises Off in 1997, then-high school student Adam Pankow went back to see it three times.
“I remember never laughing quite so hard at something on stage,” said Pankow, who now serves as Artistic Director at FMCT. “It was like nothing I had ever seen.”
Now, 22 years later, FMCT is bringing Noises Off back to the stage this September under the direction of Terri Egan.
“I can still hear how hard everybody around me was laughing,” Pankow said. “I’m excited to hear that laughter in our theatre again.”
FMCT will present Noises Off on September 6, 7, 12, 13 & 14 at 7:30 p.m. and September 8 at 2:00 p.m. at The Stage at Island Park (333 4th Street South, Fargo, ND 58103). Tickets are available starting August 19 and can be purchased at fmct.org or by calling 701-235-6778.
Michael Frayn’s 1982 comedy, often praised as “the funniest play ever written,” takes its title from a stage direction referring to sounds coming from offstage. Noises Off is a play-within-a-play depicting the follies of a second-rate theatre troupe as they fumble through rehearsals of a farce called “Nothing On.” As performances commence, friction among the actors and their director leads to utter pandemonium—complete with slamming doors, falling trousers, and flying sardines.
While the entire play takes place on a theatre set, Pankow assures that audience members need not be well-versed in theatre to see the humor in the ensemble’s antics.
“It isn’t just a show about theatre, it’s a show about relationships,” he said. “It’s really a workplace comedy, and the workplace just happens to be at the theatre. There’s a lot to relate to with workplace romances, conflicts with coworkers, and all of that. It eclipses just theatre itself.”
The relatability of its subject matter is only part of the staying power that has established Noises Off as a staple of both professional and community theatres for almost 40 years, Pankow explains. The play also relies on a form of fast-paced, slapstick humor that defies age or era.
“Some things are universal. A pie in the face or a fall down the stairs, you’re going to laugh at that,” Pankow said. “Expect a really fast, funny, and furious time on stage.”