When a couple gets married, it is usually stated “until death us do part.” However, friendships are eternal.
Tacoma Little Theatre’s current production of Paul Elliott’s “Exit Laughing” proves the axiom with peels of laughter and a few tears of joy.
Directed by Rick Hornor, “Exit Laughing” is just a very funny play with witty dialogue and an amazing cast which is up to Hornor’s style of transferring the playwright’s ideas smoothly from page to stage.
For a third of a lifetime, four women have met over a weekly card game to discuss their hopes and fears, their disappointments and successes. It’s an eclectic group of friends.
Mary is the stalwart member of the group; she tries to keep her pals on track, never forgets anything she promises and always looks on the bright side of a life not gone the way she wanted – just not enough time. Connie is a divorcee with a college-aged daughter, Rachel Ann, who is as uncertain about men as her mother is. Leona is the alcoholic owner of the local beauty parlor, who makes illusions to gossip but claims that “what happens at the Snip ‘n Curl stays at the Snip ‘n Curl.” Millie is an innocent, divorced dingbat who sometimes forgets she is divorced along with various other things. The last member of the cast is a Policeman.
At curtain, Rachel Ann comes home in a horrendous mood after being stood-up by a fellow student on a first date. She rants to her mother affirming that all men are dirt and goes to her room. Since it is “card night,” Connie tries to ready things for her remaining two guests for their first night together after Mary has pasted on leaving the group a trio.
Leona arrives with an immediate thirst and a desire to talk about the dear departed. Shortly thereafter, Millie arrives with an eye over one shoulder to confirm that she hasn’t been followed. The reason for her duress is soon discovered when Millie pulls out of her bag the urn holding the ashes of their absent friend! “Well, it was Thursday and card night, I thought she would want to be we with us,” the well-meaning friend confirms. “So I borrowed her.”
Now, it seems that Mary’s distant relatives, the only blood kin she has, want to get rid of her as soon as possible and plan to drop her cremated remains into the ground the next day and forget about her.
How Mary escapes her undesired final end through a series of hilariously funny scenes, in which Mary plays an intricate, though distant role — even when the cop arrives – brings this laugh-fest to a final almost teary ending where all’s right with the world. Thank you, Mary!
And thank you Director Hornor for doing such a good job on direction and choosing the perfect actors for the three remaining pals.
Hornor guides his cast about another set designed by Blake R. York which gives the audience a typical suburban home bought in the 60’s and never changed from that era; why bother?
Jeffery Weaver dresses the set in the never-changing style. Niclas Olson lights the home. Michele Graves does costumes in keeping with the characters’ style. Nena Curley is Stage Manger.
Margret Parobek plays the disillusioned-with-men Rachel Ann. Parobek is charmingly paranoid in her 20ish-going-on-13 way. The character claims that all her problems are caused by her mother (there’s the age 13 part), and the actor makes the audience believe the character is right.
John Naden is the Policeman. Naden is very good in the role of the friendly, oh, so friendly cop, who comes on the scene and scares the three pals into the fear of repercussions due to the missing Mary; he gets better as the play progresses.
Shelleigh-Mairi Ferguson is perfect as Millie, the dipsy-doodle funeral home robber, and finds no wrong in the deed. Ferguson’s gives her character a naiveté and wide-eyed innocent look which makes her character’s blunders in actions and words truly believable and laughable.
Sharry O’Hare is just wonderful as the usually besotted Leona. O’Hare plays her character as the truly fun-loving broad who fears nothing except the possible loss of her friends. She makes Leona so strong through her alcoholic haze that even that possibility proves no problem. Leona’s truly believes that if you laugh, the world will laugh with you.
Carol Richmond is excellent as the long-suffering mother of the post-teenager, who, is so devastated by her divorce and her daughter’s problems and the passing of her dear friend and Millie’s theft of Mary and all the worries of the world – the audience can see Connie stoop under the burden of her worries. However, she recoups beautifully, as do all, before the final curtain.
“Exit Laughing” continues at Tacoma Little Theatre at 210 North I Street through May 7 at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays with 2 p.m. matinees Sundays. A special Pay-What-You-Can performance is scheduled for Thursday, May 4 at 7:30 p.m.
For more information or to make reservations go online to www.tacomalittletheatre.com or call the theatre at (253) 272-2281.
“Exit Laughing” is a funny show with laughable lines and characters. But what really makes this farcical romp work is the interaction between the three remaining friends – even including the deceased one. It is a joy to see these three women act and react so beautifully together.
Stop laughing just long enough to heed the message it sends: Don’t waste all your time on the mundane things life demands; make time for the things you want to do – wear the red dress and the new underwear; don’t wait for that special occasion. Every day is a special occasion.
Make your reservations for a happy time and enjoy the show. There’s little better in life than a real good belly laugh, especially one with a heartfelt message.
And remember, you don’t stop laughing because you grow old – you grow old because you stop laughing. See “Exit Laughing” at Tacoma Little Theatre and stay young.