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“Exit Laughing’s” Comic Relief Offsets Current Daily Doldrums

by | Sep 24, 2021

Davidson Community Players is presenting the best kind of tonic to relieve the sadness so overwhelming these days. Instant laughter. From the moment Exit Laughing opens until its final ludicrous lines, belly laughs resound throughout a happy, uplifted house. Even the play’s director, Sylvia Schnople asserts, “If laughter is the best medicine, then I must be the healthiest person in town.”

“Exit Laughing” (John McHugh photo)

No kidding. Exit Laughing, a silly play by Paul Elliott, has a zany plot, developed by hilarious characters who perform ludicrous scenes. Irreverent at times—maybe. But not mal-intended. I prefer to call them humanistic, especially the way a tight-knit group of friends handle the inevitable realities of life. Humor is the best cure for grieving tears.

The comedy is well cast. Who would have thought Cat Rutledge, who generally portrays more conservative roles, could become a bouncing, nit-wit, faithful friend? As Millie, a mid-life, ditzy blonde, dead-pan Cat reveals her innermost silly bones for the unabashed enjoyment of everyone around. She’s terrific!

It’s good to see Alyce Mayors-Sminkey back on-stage again. As Leona, she’s inclined to deliver straight lines to off-set Millie’s nonsense—unless she’s sipping one too many. Even so, Leona is a very sexy lady.

Jean Kadela plays a more sobering role as Connie, mother of an overwrought teenager, at whose home the story unfolds. But Connie can be nutty too, capable of tossing out some unexpected wacky zingers, much to everyone’s surprise.

Destiney Wolfe is Rachel, Connie’s melodramatic teenager. “I’m supposed to be dramatic, I’m a theatre major,” she retorts to her mother’s admonitions. Destiney is quite familiar with DCPs stage. She has a number of youth and adult plays under her belt, but her roller-coaster interpretation of Rachel, while emotional, at times is a bit overplayed.

Axel Garcia Frias makes his Armour Street Theatre debut as Exit Laughing’s Policeman and he’s a welcome addition. The show’s Policeman is full of surprises and Axel handles the evolving

“Exit Laughing” (John McHugh photo)

nature of his character with polished ease.

Actually, DCPs production of Exit Laughing is filled with surprises. The set designed by Andrea Kallo with her husband Jim Kallo, the show’s technical director, is the best. It’s wonderful to

see how Andrea incorporates the entire stage to present a comprehensive, realistic living room in excellent taste, including a swinging door that actually works every time an actor pushes through.

The company has found a real treasure in competent fourteen-year-old Gavin Vezendy, who not only functions as Exit Laughing’s stage manager but also operates the light and sound board for the show.

Although Paul Elliott’s comic storylines remain upbeat, off-color and ludicrous throughout the play, they tend to drag a bit toward the end of the second act. Happily, the actors instinctively pick it up.

“Exit Laughing” (John McHugh photo)

I don’t know how to play Bridge and I don’t think those crazy ladies know anything about the game either. Was it Canasta, Poker or four-handed Gin they were playing? Who cares, anyway. Their antics override any cards they may draw or toss into a pot.

Exit Laughing is theatre at its best. A brief distraction from the reality of everyday life, seasoned with spicy quips of humor. While I did exit laughing, I was also reminded not to put off for tomorrow what I should have done today, because…

Tomorrow may never come.

 

Connie Fisher

Connie Fisher, neé Consuelo Carmona, is a Davidson resident who grew up in Mexico City where she became a journalist and acquired a taste for the theatre. Her preference for work behind the scenes, led to an interest in writing reviews—Yale Rep among her favorite troupes. Connie is the author of Doing it the Right Way, the biography of an Italian hatmaker. Her prose appears with 87 other international writers in The Widows’ Handbook. An active member of Charlotte Writers’ Club North, currently she is writing chapters of memoir and continues to review theatre in the Lake Norman area.

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