Dailey Theatre is traveling back in time to 14th Century France for “Red Noses,” which opened last night and runs through Sunday.
In it, a deadly plague sweeps through Europe killing everyone in its path.
Scavengers ransack victims’ bodies and survivors become the targets of criminals and religious freaks. In all the turmoil the church deserts the people in fear of their demise.
During this grim and desperate time, a Catholic monk by the name of Marcel Flote, played by junior Zachary Green, believes he has received a summon by a higher power.
He believes he is summoned to aid the people stricken by the plague by providing them with laughter.
Flote embarks on a journey while recruiting a cheerful mute, criminals, nuns and stragglers to join him in his crusade to heal people with laughter.
“It is relevant to the beginning of a revolution in modern day,” Green said.
This black comedy provides the audience with a good balance of comedy and tragedy.
“Red Noses,” was written by Peter Barnes in 1978 and first staged in 1985, winning him an Oliver Award presented by the Society of London Theatre.
Under the direction of Sean Dillon, associate professor of theater arts, the lively and energetic 25 cast members worked hard while simultaneously having fun delivering humor with entertaining musical selections to complement the drama.
Dillon explains that the complexity of the play is what makes it a challenge.
“Red Noses” expresses both a serious and funny tone as tragedy is eased with comic relief.
Dillon uses his creativity and experience to select and direct a group that has great chemistry.
“We all work very hard and I can’t take sole credit for it,” Dillon said. “We try to create an environment where people get accustomed to collaborating.”
In the audition process, Dillon wanted to see how the actors would work in groups.
Instead of traditional individual auditions, group auditions were held to test how actors collaborated with each other, which would inevitably be conveyed throughout the play, influencing its overall effect.
Actors read from the play, sang songs and played games together as part of the audition process.
“After spending two months in preparation, if they didn’t already get along, they had to learn to. The play is too much of a collaboration (for actors) to not get along (with each other),” said Amanda Novoa, stage manager and senior theater major.
Although the play is built around a disease that destroys the city, it also has a deeper meaning.
“Red Noses’” meaning lies beneath the tragedies that surface and is left for audiences to cultivate and configure themselves.
“I would like to see the audience enjoy the play and provoke some thought after the show,” Dillon said.
Red Noses opened Thursday and will continue to play tonight, Saturday, Dec. 8, 9 and 10 at 7:30 p.m., and Dec. 11 at 2 p.m.
Tennille Wright can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.