'Exit the King' a crowning production
TheatreWorks, New Milford: Most people don’t want to die. In Exit the King, playwright Eugene lonesco reminds us to get ready to die because it’s going to happen, and there’s nothing we can do to prevent it.
We are reminded of this inevitability through King Berenger the First, the protagonist who doesn’t want to die. He has been told by The Doctor that his death is imminent. His first wife, Queen Marguerite, tells him he will be dead by the end of the play. Still, the king refuses to accept death. “Why was I born if it wasn’t forever?” he asks.
While it sounds as though the play must be quite dark, it is one very funny comedy. Audiences laugh out loud as the king drags out his last dying hour.
Directed by Jane Farnol, this stunning production gets a royal treatment at TheatreWorks in New Milford, even as it has been reduced to one hour without intermission. Every minute of it brings home the entertaining theater of the absurd, as well as lonesco’s thoughts about dying and the meaninglessness of life, an absurdist’s’ mantra.
Everything about this production is polished. Mark Feltch’s performance as the king is nothing short of inspired. Queen Marguerite, his first wife, is the realist. She keeps steering the king towards accepting death. Jude Callirgos Robinson plays Marguerite, regally as she snubs Queen Maria, and lashes out at her egotistical ex-husband.
Susan Abrams plays Queen Marie, the younger wife whom the king considers his heartthrob, and Kyle Minor plays The Doctor with fervor. John Fabiani as The Guard adds plenty of humor to the proceedings as he shouts out “Long live the King” and other platitudes with gusto. Paula Digati Anderson as the overworked maid Juliette adds even more comedy to the production with her many interruptions.
Spend one hour at this play and you’ll have hours of conversation afterwards. There’s plenty to chew on regarding religion, politics, and society, and most of it is timely as ever.