ArtsReviewTheatre

Stage West and fabulous cast prove just the ticket for funny with winning political farce The Outsider

Caroline Russell-King offers her Postcard Review of the current production at Stage West, the political farce The Outsider.

Show: The Outsider. 

Playwright/composer: written by Paul Slade Smith.

Production company/theatre space: Stage West Theatre Restaurant.

Length: Two acts (three hours with one intermission).

Genre(s): Farce.

Premise: A shy, sincere, smart politician succumbs to political advice to play dumb in order to appeal to American voters while his receptionist, who is the antithesis of him, inadvertently becomes his running mate and further chaos ensues.

Why this play? Why now?: An apolitical political farce is a welcome break from outdated sex farces. We live in a time where truth is stranger than fiction and this fiction is fun.

Curiosities: Mild musings — I wondered if using comedy as a delivery for subtle politics is something we could have more of. I was fascinated to know if the omnivores embraced the fried frog legs. I wondered if the un-ironed shirts of the servers were an extension of the relaxed dress code for the audience.

Notable moment: The switch to live feed as the stakes are raised when a journalist comes to expose the con and we see the embarrassment on the large screens in real time.

Notable writing: This well-conceived and executed farce has all the rhythms, misunderstandings and miscommunications (without some of the other elements of the timed door play or T&A humour we’ve come to expect from the genre).  

Notable performances: The whole cast is great. Newcomer Mark Crawford is a delightful addition to the roster and we hope to see more of him. Kathryn Kerbes’ comic timing is impeccable. David LeReaney delivers rapid fire lines of twisted logic. Mark Weatherley and Adrienne Merrell are a slightly more OTT than the others but it all works well.

Notable design/production: Sean D. Ellis is the TD and set designer maybe needed to iron out some of the seams and ripples on the set, but fortunately there isn’t much time to contemplate the set with the funny flurry on stage. Norman J. Galenza-MacDonald gives us wigs that work.

Notable direction: J. Sean Elliott, Stage West’s resident farceur, delivers a win with your din.

One reason to see this show: Laughter, libations and laudatory script. (OK, technically that’s three.)

(Photo courtesy John Watson Photography.)

The Outsider runs until April 19 at Stage West. For tickets and showtimes go to https://stagewestcalgary.com/.

Caroline Russell-King is a playwright, dramaturg, and instructor. She is a member of The Playwrights Guild of Canada, the Dramatist Guild of America and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. You can find her work here at www.carolinerussellking.com.

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