Exit The King Review

[Rating:5/5]

This production of Ionesco’s Exit The King will linger in my memory for decades to come. It was wonderful!

Of course, Geoffrey Rush’s exceptional acting talents made this trip to the theatre an invaluable experience. However, I agree with some press reviews that noted director Neil Armfield was careful not to allow Rush to ‘steal the show’ and upstage the others, resulting in a true ensemble work.

However, all was not rosy in Berenger’s kingdom. Gillian Jones’ lack of tonal quality and vocal variety irked me from start to finish. There was probably only one or two instances in my performance where she briefly stumbled on a line, but more than a few examples of where her breathing was just completely in the wrong place altogether, leaving the latter part of a line being stretched on thin air.

Interestingly, one of my Year 12 students in a post-performance discussion, noted Jones’ lack of vocal expression as completely suitable for her role; her monotonal line delivery being appropriate as King Berenger’s rock of stability (counterposed with Rebecca Massey’s interpretation of the other Queen, demonstrating instability with her shrill of a voice and exaggerated movements).

David Wood’s diction in speaking the doctor’s lines was exceptional. I love it when we can take our students to a show and isolate certain expressive skills as strengths or weaknesses of individual actors. Really helps our students understand the nature of theatre. Wonderful casting with Julie Forsyth. She was a crack up and my students learnt a lot about comedy from her performance.

Well, every group of students is different. Over the years when I have taught absurdism, it has been a bit like introducing students to Monty Python. One group loves it, another hates it, sometimes a mixture of both. As preparation in advance of this show, my current Year 12 group didn’t really like Waiting for Godot (script or the Gate Theatre of Dublin on film), thought the concept of existentialism was intriguing, while the jury was still out for Theatre of the Absurd. Now, Exit The King has just sealed it for them. What a fantastic introduction to absurdism for students! They loved every miinute of it (and more importantly, will now be interested in absurdism in the future, because of this production).

Neil Armfield has done a wonderful job directing Geoffrey Rush and Co. in this superb production. A lesson in the finest theatre for everyone.

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