(COVER PHOTO: Foley Herrmann, Ali Rei and Rose Gage of "Exit Laughing” by Paul Elliott - now playing at Square One Players in Shrewsbury, MA. through March 27, 2022. Photo courtesy of Square One Players)
Kevin T. Baldwin
"The laughs come well urned"
The laughs arrive early and often with the physical humor intense throughout in Square One Player's latest offering, "Exit Laughing" now playing in Shrewsbury, MA. until March 27th.
Written by Paul Elliott, the comedy surrounds a trio of single friends in Birmingham, Alabama, who have recently lost a fourth, leaving them all with a big emotional "gap" in their lives.
Connie (Foley Hermann) is also dealing with drama being caused by her sexually frustrated daughter and virgin college student, Rachel (Anh Dao), who has been stood up by her latest date, Bobby (Collin Touchette) at the last minute with little or no explanation.
As Connie discusses this with friend Leona (Rose Gage), enter onto the scene the both befuddled and befuddling Millie (Ali Rei) carrying (spoiler alert) the urn of their late friend, Mary, which she took from the funeral home the day before Mary's funeral.
(PHOTO: The Cast of "Exit Laughing” by Paul Elliott - now playing at Square One Players in Shrewsbury, MA. through March 27, 2022. Photo courtesy of Square One Players)
Connie and Leona panic not knowing how to make Millie understand the magnitude of the crime she has committed. Through a series of odd coincidences, enter onto the scene a special delivery arranged to be "sent" to the ladies by their late friend. How all this impacts Connie and her daughter is the crux of much of the hilarity that is unleashed.
The five member cast, under the direction of Jeremy Woloski, is a joy to watch as they engage one another in Elliott's otherwise trite comedy.
Not quite on the level of true farce, yet also not quite a black comedy, most of the jokes 'land' but quite a few don't. This is where the physical comedy is used to fill in much of the gaps in Elliott's script. The other thing that helps lift the material is the appearance of a genuine, genial rapport between the actors on stage.
Harland and Dao, as Connie and Rachel, make the relationship of concerned mother and frustrated daughter quite believable.
Rose Gage, as the acerbic Leona, is the character who helps "root" the others on stage, keeping everyone from going completely off the rails when events become unhinged as the story hits its peak.
Ali Rea brings a uniquely intense physicality to the character of Millie, making her the funniest character in the piece. From the moment she enters, the comedy that follows is almost always as a direct result of something Millie has either said or done. A singularly splendid performance.
The single set of Connie's living room is impeccably decorated and works quite well for all the action that takes place.
Take note: It is recommended everyone stay for the entire length of the curtain call for a nice added bonus. Overall, this is one funny show where just about everyone in the audience is guaranteed to exit...the theatre, anyway...laughing.
The show runs approximately one hour, 40 minutes with one intermission.
Kevin T. Baldwin is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA)
Our mission is to provide a venue to promote and support the performing and cultural arts in Central Massachusetts. The goal of the Square One Players is to provide a quality and economical live theater program that is all inclusive and of course, have a little fun along the way. We strive to open opportunities to anyone who wishes to participate in the art of theater. We hope that one and all will feel welcome to participate either by viewing or taking part in our theater shows. Come join us and be ready to be entertained!