The thought that we can be plucked from this earthly plane without rhyme or reason, justification, or circumstance is most unsettling for some. A feeling of uncertainty, our place, and the meaning of our existence come into question. We can hide from, postpone, and even cheat, but death will inevitably greet us all. Thus is the main theme of Exit the King by Eugene Ionesco. The show displays the complexities of emotion, from doubt to denial, to anger and eventually acceptance.
Our setting is somewhat reminiscent of a Twilight Zone episode. Neither past nor present, it is placed somewhere in the recesses of our consciousness. The King, (played with reckless abandon by Jeff Alan-Lee) is failing, both health and kingdom. His courtiers, Marguerite (a charismatic Erin Matthews) and Marie (sensational Jill Bennett) play a wicked little game of hide and seek. His majesty is quite content with the world crumbling around him. However it is their duty to inform him of his impending doom. How shall they do so?
Let the doctor (an outstanding Nicholas Ullett) administer a most terrible prognosis? Or let the help, or this case, the nurse (most aptly played by Analia Lenchantin) or the guard (Terry Tocantins)?
This production is outstanding. Director Pat Towne is keen on maximizing the talent of each of the actors. The pacing and performance exceed the script, which does at times embrace the absurd. A story that explores the boundaries of existentialism without divulging in didactics can be tricky. But they pull it off. Long live the king.
Exit the King runs through Nov. 30 at NoHo Actors Studio located at 5215 Lankershim Blvd. in North Hollywood. For tickets call (818) 763-1208 or visit exittheking.com.