Exit West Palm Beach

"Exit the King" at Palm Beach DramaworksShakespeare again,  

“The King’s a beggar now the play is done,

All is well ended…”

Every now and then there is a cherry on the cup-cake of an actor’s life. Exit the King was one of mine.

I love last performances in a run. The knowledge that each line is uttered for the last time and at the second it’s spoken passes into the theatrical oubliette. It was here, but now it’s gone. There’s a raw beauty in that. Or is it a savage poignancy?

And this one was poignant.

Mostly because of the lovely company. My fellow actors in the show who gave such excellent work, but beyond that, who can encounter the enthusiastic House Manager Theda Reale and remain uncheered? And the positive energy of the ladies of the Box Office helmed by Sophie Crowell. Or production management guided by Josh Aune and his crew—incidentally a man whose brother Jake cooks steak the way that might have been mentioned in the book of Genesis—But the whole venture is working—and let’s face it how many theatres can say that these days?

I played Berenger. A once in a lifetime role. 

Modesty forbids me linking another review. Oh, alright then, since you insist:,63,2

I usually over-estimate the amount of energy and free time I’ll have during the run of a show. It’s an odd rhythm. You work three weeks days (rehearsal), then you work two weeks days and nights (tech, production & preview), then you work three weeks nights (the run, with three days thrown in).

And I under-estimate the absorbing quotient involved in doing a show. Even if you’re playing a small part, there comes a time when you live and breathe the play and there’s hardly room for shopping, washing and banking on the day off.

Which means I also over-estimate the amount of useful shipping. The Equity allowance is a generous 400 lbs, and I take full advantage of it, bringing a printer for example, with me.

This was a special case. As I’ve mentioned before in these pages. “Exit” took a lot of puff. There was a section in the middle of the show equivalent to playing one of the great Shakespearean leads and I found myself seriously worried about whether I had the stamina to get through eight shows a week. I built some strength over time, and I believe if we ran for another couple of months the day would have come when I did the show without breaking a sweat, but that day was not during our run, by no means. And I always napped deeply between the shows on matinee days.

But I was not idle and even though I didn’t get to catch up on my youtube editing and various activities, I did record my book (watch this space for availability), and an excerpt for the local NPR station, now also active as a podcast, run by Caroline Breder-Watts and her husband John Watts. Link here:

I played a little poker at The Kennel Club, and came out a modest three figure sum the right side of the ledger. I swam in the ocean, and kicked myself for not doing more of it. I did not take any Bikram Yoga—but I’m planning to.

The show was there and now it’s gone. Another in the series of constant testimony to the ephemeral nature of theatre. A metaphor for the brief business of life. Exit the King riffs on decline, decay and death. It would be hard to work on this play and not spend a little time thinking about mortality and the questions of the great hereafter.

Palm Beach Dramaworks is a theatre on the beach, and like theaters everywhere its existence is a triumph of the improbable over the impossible. Doubly courageous then to produce a challenging absurdist drama that confronts its audience with what must shortly happen to us all.