DHS spring play deals double dose of farce
Bryan Hileman calls "Noises Off" the funniest play he has ever seen. While it has been a challenge for his students at De Soto High School to put together, he said the performance will make it worth it.
"It is a hilarious show, and it helps if you understand that type of comedy," Hileman said. "If you understand there's a lot of physical comedy, you will be pleasantly surprised because it's also a smart comedy."
De Soto High School students will perform "Noises Off" at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday night at the DHS theatre. The production is a farce that follows a troupe of actors from rehearsals through a performance.
Hileman said at first watching the show, it can be confusing.
"Most of the students are playing two characters," Hileman said. "They play an actor and the character that actor plays in the play in the play."
Senior Leslie Hodges plays the characters Flavia and Belinda. She said her characters are the most similar.
"As an actor, you have to think about two different characters," Hodges said. "The audience should be able to tell the difference."
The first act of the play is the final rehearsal for the actors. In the second act, cast members turn the entire set around to show the backstage during a performance. For the third act, the set is turned again to show a particularly bad performance.
Hodges said the play was difficult to learn because it was longer than most and also because it was demanding physically.
"It took a lot longer to block because there's a lot more to do," Hodges said. "We had to memorize our lines a lot earlier."
Hileman said the timing was difficult to orchestrate, but that's the nature of farce. He said it all has to do with "going in and out of doors and a willingness to experiment."
In one of the more difficult physical moments in the play, senior Ross Brown does a pratfall down an entire flight of stairs. When asked how he learned to fall, Brown said he didn't.
"I really do fall. It's pretty fun to actually slide down the stairs," he said.
After coming close to injury during rehearsals, Hileman said Brown learned how to protect himself in the fall.
Brown plays Gary and Roger. He said acting in a farce is different than a drama because you have to make everything big.
"Farce is easier because you don't have to worry about being over the top," Brown said. "Sometimes you think you're being really cheesy, but it comes across as funny to the audience."
Brown said one of the keys to the humor of the show was improvisation. Because the script calls for bad acting and backstage antics, actors were allowed to improvise more than a normal show. Hileman said improvisation and humor were so important for the show, he auditioned cast members by playing "improv games."
"With this show, playing with it through improv makes it look more real," Hileman said. "There are more than a few things that have accidentally happened and we thought they were funny, so they became a permanent part of the show."
But improvisation was not the only way lines got changed in this play. Some of the material was deemed unsuitable for a high school play. The original script called for more alcohol and near-nudity. Hileman said there were many changes.
"One character is supposed to wear a bra and panties and instead she wears a dark slip," Hileman said. "There were a lot of inappropriate actions and compromising positions we had to take out, along with a fair amount of basic vocabulary."