By Lucy Volker

Transformation is the theme for Harlequin’s 2020 season. They begin the New Year with Noises Off and The Highest Tide. Riffing on the season’s theme, Noise’s Off is said to be “one of the funniest plays ever written, offering the community some much-needed comedic relief.” The Highest Tide is a coming of age story written by local bestselling author Jim Lynch. Both productions exemplify the theme in different ways encouraging the audience to laugh, feel and think about what transformation means to them. 

Noises Off is a play-within-a-play following a London theater troupe on several rehearsals and performances for a play titled Nothing On. “Nothing On relies heavily on mistaken identities, innuendos, a touch of slapstick, heavy doses of farce, and a never-ending use of doors, entrances, and exits that create an orchestral precision timing” says director Corey McDaniel. Written in 1982 by Michael Frayn, Noises Off quickly became an international hit. Frayn was apparently inspired to write the script after watching the commotion behind the scenes of another production and realizing how entertaining life behind the scenes can be.

The performance is an outrageous picture of what it’s like to work in the theater world and experience myriad mistakes and technical difficulties that can happen at any moment. The set design for Noises Off is intricate, featuring a two-level set with a large window, three exit pathways and seven doors — all used throughout the performance. “The world around us right now is deeply conflicted, severed, confused, and divided,” says McDaniel. “We want to transform our community by offering a place where the community can gather and reflect. We believe we can ‘transform’ our community from a place of uncertainty, stress, fear, and division and lean into a place of joy, laughter, happiness, and community togetherness.” 

The Highest Tide is a story about a thirteen-year-old boy named Miles who makes a life changing discovery on the shores of the Puget Sound. Set in Olympia and written by local author Jim Lynch, the story highlights the natural beauty of the region along with themes of learning about the complexities of life and growing up. Adapted for stage by Jane Jones through the “Book-It” style, almost every line of the script comes directly from the book. “I’m thrilled Jim’s enchanting story The Highest Tide will be in its own hometown under Aaron Lamb’s direction,” says Jones. ‘This novel ranks in my favorites after 30 years of adapting fiction for the stage. And I promise, once you are under its spell, you’ll never walk the beaches of Puget Sound again without marveling delightfully at the wonders of the inhabitants that populate its shores.”



Lynch, a former reporter, grew up in Seattle, attended the University of Washington and now lives in Olympia with his family. He has written four novels, winning the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award for The Highest Tide. Portland’s Powell’s Books recently named it one of the top books for people in the Pacific Northwest to read before they die. Tide was performed in Seattle by Book-It Repertory Theater in 2008, but this will be the first production of it in Olympia. “I’m so excited to see The Highest Tide come to life on stage in Olympia where I wrote and set the novel 15 years ago. Thanks to Harlequin for taking on this project,” says Lynch. 

In Tide, Miles is thirteen and the role was cast with young actors. It will be split between cousins Jack Conklin and Leo Brotherton. Both actors will bring their own energy to the role, and Harlequin hopes it will be intriguing for the audience. Harleuqin artistic director Aaron Lamb says, “[Tide] is a beautifully written coming-of-age story and a love letter to Olympia. This is my first year as a local myself, and my first full year as artistic director. I wanted to celebrate the community I’ve chosen to be a part of.”

The theme “Transformation” is very fitting for Harlequin’s 2020 season. We are in a time of deep social and cultural transformation, which sparks introspection and often transformation on a personal level for many. Harlequin has selected nine plays for this season that demonstrate the theme in many forms; transformation of the written word to the stage, transformation and development of the plot and characters, and transformation of the audience through experience.

“As we prepare to transform these written texts into movement and light, spoken word and shadows, we hope that you will see the stories of transformation before you in our work,” says Lamb. “We hope you will find — within yourselves — some kernel of the same. We hope you will see the beauty we see and will recognize the journey necessary for learning. We hope to enlighten.” 

This season Harlequin will offer nine productions instead of seven. The additional two productions will be held at the Washington Center Black Box Theater. Please note membership changes on Harlequin’s website. 


WHAT

Noises Off

WHEN

7:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. January 15-February 8, 2020

WHERE

Harlequin Theater 202 4th Avenue East Olympia WA 98501

HOW MUCH

General $36

LEARN MORE

harlequinproductions.org

360-786-0151


WHAT

The Highest Tide

WHEN

7:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. February 26 – March 21, 2020

WHERE

Harlequin Theater 202 4th Avenue East Olympia WA 98501

HOW MUCH

General $36

LEARN MORE

harlequinproductions.org

360-786-0151