Broadway World Review: THE OUTSIDER

THE OUTSIDER by Paul Slade Smith. Photo: Cameron Whitman Photography

The Outsider by Paul Slade Smith, now playing at the Keegan Theatre, is a skewering send-up of all the shenanigans that polls, pollsters, and the media are involved in. Laughs aplenty ensue as a governor must resign and a decidedly “outsider” type of candidate, Ned Newley (played by a perfectly cast Zach Brewster-Geisz), is thrust into the spotlight… The arc of idiocy continues when an enthusiastic and extremely literal-minded job temp named Louise Peakes (a finely tuned comedic performance by Susan Marie Rhea) becomes involved … Ms. Rhea is the master of malapropisms (in a role that would rival Mrs. Malaprop in Sheridan’s The Rivals) and she inhabits the stage like a master comic.

There is an air of constant spoofing and situations turned topsy-turvy throughout but it never becomes heavy-handed thanks to the assured direction of Ray Ficca. There is always a sense of the nebulous quality between reality and hyper-charged political showmanship. Like the film Network, reality becomes entertainment and entertainment becomes reality in this sharply etched satire. Morbid humor also underpins some of the writing. The play nicely melds all the elements of satire, character development and comedy into one integrated whole.

As “the outsider” Mr. Zach Brewster-Geisz has a sublime sense of physical comedy that is akin to great actors in silent films as his body movements express so much. … Actor Michael Innocenti scores as the chief of staff of a totally dysfunctional Governor’s office. Mr. Innocenti has a good sense of movement and physical energy onstage and he possesses the right admixture of befuddlement and authority. Actor Lolita Marie as the shrewd poll official Paige Caldwell delivers a wonderfully solid and trenchant portrayal especially in her scenes with actor DeJeanette Horne. … Ms. Rebecca Ballinger (as the reporter Rachel Parsons) excels in the bite and assertive drive of her role, and she possesses an ingratiating affinity for the stage space…

Though there is much of politics and media in our democracy that is skewered in this play, there remains a glimmer of hope and inspiration for the future in this cutting-edge play. … The Keegan Theatre should be applauded for presenting the regional premiere of this rewarding gem of a play by Paul Slade Smith.