Weekly bridge nights are the glue that holds four women’s lives together for over thirty years… until one of the group passes away. Exit Laughing is the story of a wild night that starts with breaking into a funeral home and ends in places no one could expect! Read on for our review of this Palace Theatre production.
The show begins innocently enough as the women gather for their weekly bridge night, even though the recently deceased Mary won’t be joining. Well, it turns out that’s not entirely true! It’s carpool night, so naturally Millie (Tricia West) still decides to pick Mary up from the funeral home.
Soon, the women have an ugly stolen urn and their friend’s ashes on their hands. The play really takes a turn when an unexpected visitor arrives at the door. Bridge night goes off the rails until the women are dodging police and dancing with a stripper!
Although the play certainly is a comedy, we also see the friend group wrestle with the loss of one of their own. Leona (Dinah Watts) downs bottles to cope, Millie can’t seem to comprehend Mary’s absence, and Connie (Norah Cuzzocrea) tries to hold everyone together while struggling herself. Her daughter, Rachel (Emma Semple), sparks with anger onstage and is fresh off her own personal tragedy.
In the second act, latecomer Bobby (Antonio Fowler) brings an unexpected heart to the piece. And then, of course, there’s Mary—a character we never see onstage but whose presence is felt throughout the show. We’ve all known someone like Mary, one of those larger-than-life friends you can’t imagine no longer being there. Through the eyes of each character, the audience develops a fondness for a woman we never get to meet.
At its heart, Exit Laughing holds a powerful message about not putting off doing the things you love. Not only that, but it urges you to make sure you’re having those experiences with friends at your side. Even better if you're having lots of laughs along the way!
Behind the scenes, Exit Laughing is led by a talented group of co-directors, designers, and many others. The large team feels fitting for a show built so strongly on friendship. In the program notes, Director Dinah Watts says, “We all need plays that add love to the world, and I believe goofiness is an important form of love.” Exit Laughing lives up to this vision, as the audience laughs and even tears up together throughout the evening.
All adult audiences will love the show, but older audience members especially may recognize themselves and their own friends in the characters. Although me and my friends are still a few decades away from having thirty-year-running game night traditions, we enjoyed the ride and had a great evening out.