It seems to be a matter of great import to the health of his kingdom that he accept this fact gracefully, but Berenger resists. Let everyone else die instead, he declares. Or maybe it would be better for everyone else to live and remember him fondly? Fellow ASP co-founder Sarah Newhouse is Queen Marguerite, prim and proper as she tries to guide him toward death with a touch of empathy mixed in to her generally fed-up demeanor. Jesse Hinson, Gunnar Manchester and Rachel Belleman are other members of the court, whose well-practiced obedience to the crown is ever-more tempered by their awareness that his rejection of the inevitable is causing great ruin to the kingdom. Ionesco mixes elements of myth, classical Greek theater and Shakespearean views of divine right.

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I cannot tell if and when I am to take him serious, and I suppose that is by design. These moments of tonal ambiguity afford directors and actors the opportunity to make Ionesco what they need him to be, which is a liberating proposition.

Exit the King Of the three, Exit the King is the most interesting and affecting. Even as I write this, I cannot ignore the potential banality of what I just wrote. Yet, the problem with Exit the King is tone. I want to read this play again because there do not seem to be any clear markers indicating how sincere a reader should read lines such as the ones I quoted above. The Killer Too often, The Killer is a frustrating play. The conceit is clever enough, but unlike Exit the King and Macbett, it does not work well on the page.

Too often, the play drags and meanders at a frustratingly petty pace. Like Exit the King, I want to reread this play again before I write anything else about it, so at some point, I may add to my commentary here. Nevertheless, the play has several interesting things to say about political rhetoric and how political rhetoric functions in both public and private spaces.


Exit the King review – Alun Armstrong absurdly good in Ionesco’s drama

Ersatz heartbreak is so easily replaced with genuine impatience. So die, already! Ionesco wanted his tragicomedy to be performed as a Punch and Judy show, which would seemingly indicate a certain speed of delivery and — no pun intended — execution. The weary will use it wisely. But let it be said, with regard to word-play, this playwright is no S. As the sentimentalist queen, Evie Peck is appropriately simpering; later on, she achieves genuine poignance in her remembrance of things past. Jason Reed and Michael Rivkin, in their comic bits as the Guard and the Doctor, respectively, are effective, if isolated, from the general proceedings.


Exit the King, The Killer, Macbett

Pinterest Velvet voice, steely words: Siobhan Redmond. Director Laurence Boswell has a gift for shaping a piece and, at times, groups players in fragile symmetry two dusty servants, two overdressed queens, a tearfully distraught king as if for some dubious royal photograph. In the centre of the frame, Armstrong is extraordinary. He hops, skips, jumps, dances, limps, pulls faces, wears pyjamas, complains of lumbago. He is more fool than king. His elocution is comically overdone, as if addressing the hard of hearing or mentally defective.

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