THE OUTSIDER now playing at North Coast Rep through March 22nd is the perfect comedy antithesis for a year that can feel like a neverending political drama. A top-notch comedic cast this show delivers on the laughs with some pointed humor that makes the most of the sometimes counterintuitive feeling political system.
When the governor of a small state is forced to leave office because of a sex scandal with the runner up of a beauty pageant, and his entire staff has to resign as well since they all covered for him.
This leaves the Lt. Governor, the socially awkward, but detailed and brilliant policy minded Ned Newley (John Seibert) to take his place as Governor. Unfortunately, just the idea of being in front of people, let alone public speaking sends him into a panic attack.
Dave Riley (Christopher M. Williams) is the head of staff for Newley but finds that’s difficult when there is no staff to manage. Riley is doing his best but finds that his experience of working with qualified politicians who have the brains but not the votes to win has not given him sufficient experience to navigate the political media landscape in which he and Newley find themselves.
Riley has asked Paige (Shana Wride) a savvy pollster to come in and help and with her connections she gets the kingmaker political reporter Arthur Vance (Louis Lotorto) to join the staff and help. Newley’s awkwardness has enchanted Vance who thinks he can help Newley ascend political heights. As Vance notes, in the past people have voted for idiots who only had the look of a leader, now he can offer “something new – a leader who looks like an idiot.”
Riley has also asked a temp agency to send someone over to help with the phones. Unfortunately, they send over the aggressively chipper and confident Louise (Jacque Wilke) who is so inept she’s never been invited back for a second day.
TV reporter Rachel (Natalie Storrs) and her cameraman A.C. (Max Macke) arrive for a softball interview that goes hilariously off the rails as Newley bumbles through the rehearsed soundbites “On average, I’m a guy”, and clueless Louise enthusiastically joins the interview.
Seibert is a delightfully honest, hardworking, smart, shy, and bumbling Newley. Williams is charming as the exasperated Riley who finds a way to become an effective political operative without losing his principals.
Wride is engaging and delivers sharp one-liners as an enthusiastic and educated pollster. Lotorto brings the slick political salesman Vance fiercely life as he plots and plans.
Wilke is fantastic as the incompetent temp, who manages to become a political pawn with her cheerful, and clueless confidence.
Storrs reporter is astute as the reporter who wants to actually report on something real. Macke as her cameraman makes the most with his small but impactful role.
Director David Ellenstein keeps the farcical proceedings well-paced and the laughs coming with a sense of heart and warmth.
THE OUTSIDER is a very funny night at the theatre; if only real-life political absurdities were as easily finished within a few hours and after a lot of laughs.
THE OUTSIDER is playing through March 22nd at North Coast Rep. For tickets and showtime information go to www.northcoastrep.org
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