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Thursday, August 2, 2001

I wonder how hard it is to pull off a farce on stage and have the audience laughing throughout the show. It looks, from the third row, as if the whole play is lurching out of control and about to spill over into the aisles at any moment. And yet, in reality it has to be just the opposite. If it isn't as precise as a finely tuned instrument it could easily turn into a cacophonous mess.

All this is by way of saying how pleased I was tonight with SRT's production of Noises Off. Lurch it did, but with impeccable timing and incredible energy. It's a backstage story, so it's another example of actors portraying actors, which is always fun to watch. You see the same first act in dress rehearsal, then in the middle of its run, and then in the final performance.

The centerpiece is the middle act (they're all called Act I), in which the set is wheeled around so that you see the production from backstage. It's almost entirely silent, done in whispers and mime, but the audience tonight roared throughout. There's so much business going on that different parts of the theater are likely to be laughing at different things.

By the final act, you're familiar with the actors, the characters they're playing, and the characters in the play-within-the-play. Each gag and every line has to be consistent with what you've learned about them throughout the first two acts. And when things start to go wrong onstage, you can almost predict how they're going to handle it. Even so, the surprises never stop, and I guess that's one of the secrets to successful comedy.

It's been a long time since I've laughed that hard for that long. It was fun, but it was exhausting. The packed house was appreciative of the efforts of the cast, who must have been exhausted themselves by the time they took their final bows.

We saw the play at my old high school. The auditorium there has been renovated since the last time I was in it, a couple of years back. I think the acoustics are a little better. The wooden seats have been upholstered, but they're still hard and narrow. Other than that, it still looks pretty much like the place I sat in so many assemblies, all those decades ago.


My garden doesn't look nearly as green as it did a month ago.

To prepare for staying out so late tonight, I overslept this morning. (Actually, it was just a coincidence that this happened on a night I was going out. I overslept because I was too tired to wake up.) And, just to be on the safe side, I took a long (and very deep) nap this afternoon. (That was an accident, too.)

Unfortunately, before I went I needed something to eat, and it had to be something I could prepare in 9 to 11 minutes. So I had a Healthy Choice chicken enchilada. I keep a few such items in the freezer for occasions like this. I'll try to go back to regular food tomorrow night.

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