DC Theater Arts Review: THE OUTSIDER

THE OUTSIDER by Paul Slade Smith. Photo: Cameron Whitman Photography
A screwball farce and powerhouse performers in ‘The Outsider’

[The regional premiere of The Outsider] at Keegan Theatre is a hilarious, despairing, and ultimately heartwarming look at the fragility of democracy and the venality of the politics we force “the people” to go through in order to have something that approaches democracy.

To construct this farce, playwright Paul Slade Smith has adroitly put together elements of commedia dell’arte and 1930s American screwball comedy movies (think His Girl Friday or Bringing Up Baby) with dialogue that moves at the speed of a card shark’s fingers. With lines and plot that could have been lifted from Frank Capra movies like Meet John Doe and It’s a Wonderful Life, Smith plants his feet and ours firmly in the ground of the humble integrity of and hope in everyday people — our fellow human beings with whom we’re going through this apocalyptic mess.

Everyone’s performance works. And they all look like they are having as good a time as the audience is. … Ray Ficca’s direction is detailed in fulfilling the metaphor of outsider and making it work on multiple levels. … Paul Slade Smith has provided us with a reliable clockwork piece of theater and Ray Ficca has cast it with a group of powerhouse performers and staging that make sure that each moment is achieved with perfect timing.