May 4, 2008
Exit the Body — Enter the Farce at Marple Newtown Players
Theater: Marple Newtown Players
Show Title: Exit the Body
Opened: May 2, 2008
Seen: May 3, 2008
Reviewer: Gary Labowitz
Submitted: May 4, 2008
The Marple Newtown Players presents “Exit the Body”, May 2, 3, 9, 10, and 16, 17, 2008 at 8:00 PM with a matinee at 3:00 PM on May 4. Written by Fred Carmichael and directed by Maureen M. Carmen.
The plot: a mystery writer, Crane Hammond (Ethel Guy), rents a New England house to spend a relaxing four weeks working and resting. She is accompanied by her secretary, the flip New Yorker Kate Bixley (Lisa Panzer). They are quickly told by the rental agent, Helen O'Toole (Meg kirkpatrick), about the previous resident, a jewel fence, who was recently killed in an automobile accident. He had been holding (and hiding) a stash of diamonds that no one has been able to find. Being a mystery writer, Crane is unfazed at the news. It’s not going to bother her and her relaxing vacation!
The ditzy maid, Jenny (Jennifer Youngblood), and her boyfriend Randolph (Chris Courson), are privately intending to find those diamonds, presumably hidden somewhere around the house. Randolph is a beginner gang member, and somewhat of a dolt, but he has gotten his assignment to find the jewels from “the boss.” Criminal textbook in hand, he is game to follow instructions.
One of Crane’s friends, the fashion designer Lillian Seymour (Jeanne Buchser), occupies a house nearby, and welcomes her mystery-writer friend in a most unusual way, even presenting her with a “husband” (Michael J. Casassa) for a day.
Into this mix is injected Vernon Cookley (Joe Fortunato), who as taxi driver, gardener, sheriff, and who knows what else, actually brings a little stability to the crowd.
The focal point of the play is the center closet, which connects to the library as well as the living room, and in which bodies appear and disappear with startling rapidity. Poor Crane faints dead away every time she finds a new body in it.
That night at 2:00 AM all these diverse groups sneak into the house to search for the diamonds. They enter, exit, criss cross in the dark (literally and figuratively) until they begin to bump into one another (literally and figuratively). Eventually all the hidden identities become exposed, the situation is made crystal clear, and even the diamonds are found.
The cast is somewhat uneven, with old hands establishing a base and new hands wading in. Joe Fortunato affects a decent New England accent, and Lisa Panzer tosses in the cynical one-liners (which could use a little more acid in the delivery). Newcomer Chris Courson must learn to speak up and out to the audience. Everyone else has been around long enough to know what to do.
“Exit the Body” is a typical farce. It has the usual elements of a confusing clash of characters, mistaken identities, and Keystone Cops pandemonium. The sometimes found risqué element (usually scantily clad females or men dropping their trousers) is missing, thank goodness.