Articles about Noises Off


Putting Our Heads Together at Third Rail

by Karen Trumbo

Karen Trumbo joins Third Rail Repertory Theatre this season as a core company member. She first worked at Third Rail in last season’s production of Noises Off as Dotty/Mrs. Crachet, and appeared in this season’s production of Middletown.

We had been rehearsing Noises Off for a few weeks and were blessed with the ability to be working on the actual set that had been built in the Oregon Ballet Theatre’s warehouse (later to be moved to the Winningstad). Our rehearsals always started with a warm-up, which for this show was essential to keep us from freezing in the unheated warehouse in the middle of November. Isaac Lamb was in charge of the warm-up on this particular evening, and he chose an exercise called “Predator/Prey.”

The idea behind the game was that Isaac as the “Predator” picked three spots in this large space that included the huge set and lots of places to hide. The “Prey” (which included about 8-9 of us) were to touch each of these three spots in an allotted time of anywhere from 3-10 seconds, before returning to the Predator. The Prey could hide at the end of each countdown to save themselves and then begin to run for their next spot once a new countdown was begun; or until another Prey had successfully touched all three spots, made their way back to the Predator, and touched the Predator’s outstretched hand before the end of the countdown in which case that Prey would win the game. We were allowed to pick any strategy or path we each desired, but if you were seen by the Predator at the end of any countdown you were out.
Everyone was beyond committed to winning the game—quite the competitive group.

On the third or fourth round of this game, I had a laid out my path in my mind, and had a strategy for getting to each spot and back—knowing right where I would hide along the way. I made it to the first and second spot with ease, successfully hiding before the end of each countdown. When the third countdown started, I was running for my final spot at full speed and just as I reached the spot I met, also coming at full speed, Maureen Porter. We collided with full force…..her teeth and mouth with my big forehead.
With not a moment left before the end of the countdown we both dropped to the floor to hide, whispering urgently to each other, “Are you OK?” We each nodded in assent, and then a split second later when the next countdown began again we both jumped up and ran to go for the win. (I can’t remember for sure, but I think she beat me!)

Moments later we were laughing and sharing our “head-on” collision story. Maureen had a big fat bleeding lip and I had a large, swelling bump on my forehead. And I thought, “Ahhh… a comrade! Yep, this is my kind of people!”


The Mystery of Irma Vep by Charles Ludlam

Last year Third Rail made a splash at the holidays with our record-setting production of NOISES OFF, which many consider the funniest play written in the past 25 years. This year we’re at it again with perhaps the funniest American play of the past 25 years: Charles Ludlam’s quick change romp, THE MYSTERY OF IRMA VEP. Two actors play all the roles in this hilarious send up of Victorian melodrama, farce, 50’s horror movies, Wuthering Heights, and Hitchcock’s Rebecca. With elaborate quick changes performed in mere seconds, wildly absurd characters, and an absolute distaste for anything serious, IRMA VEP should be the perfect gut-busting escape from all that holiday noise!

Staring Isaac Lamb and Leif Norby.