Laughter is the Best Medicine

Exit Laughing @ The Alpha Players

The Alpha Players are concluding their current
season with Paul Elliott’s “Exit Laughing.” The action takes place in Connie Harland’s
home outside Birmingham, Alabama. Connie and her friends Leona and Millie are
meeting as usual on bridge night, even though the fourth player in their group – their
dear friend, Mary – has just died after a long illness. But Mary is still a part of the evening. When Millie arrives, she has the urn containing
Mary’s ashes. Millie broke into the funeral home to steal
the urn to keep Mary from being buried on the following day by relatives who never visited
her in the hospital. Mary did not want to be buried. Her three friends promised to spread her ashes
over the most beautiful places they could find. As noble as Millie’s motives were, the three
women are very conscious of the jeopardy they face because of the stolen remains. They fear the worst when a policeman shows
up at their door, but he is not what he seems to be at first. The fine Alpha cast delivers well conceived
and executed interpretations of all five characters. Laura Kracht makes Connie the most levelheaded
of the group. She has to be to cope with the anxieties of
a 21-year-old daughter whose classmate cancelled a date on short notice. Leona’s fondness for strong drink and caustic
remarks could be off-putting in the wrong hands, but Barbara Langa’s hands are the
right ones. She designed the costumes, too. Shawn Chevalier brings out the humor in the
Millie’s ditziness without ever going over the top. Anyone who has been stood up on a date will
recognize and laugh at the mixture of anger and despondency in Payton Gillam portrayal
of Rachel. Anything more I say about the policeman would
be a spoiler, but Antonio Vaghi is fully equal to all the challenges of the role. Sharon Cotner’s direction effectively uses
the space on the set she designed herself. Bob Veatch did the lighting; Alesia Brooks,
the props; and Brian Borgstede, the sound. With its substantial parts for mature woman,
“Exit Laughing” is likely to appeal to community theaters for some time to come.

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