The Exit Interview
By William Missouri Downs
Directed by Patrick Flick
Starring Mike Marinaccio and Anitra Pritchard
Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, Orlando FL
Well, it’s finally happened – the Shakespeare team has produced a Fringe show complete with a veteran Fringe cast, a minimalist Fringe set, and one of the perennial themes of the Fringe – the static argument between bubbly faith in Jesus vs. an earnestly logical defense of Agnosticism. Poor Dick Fig (Marinaccio) lost his non-tenured job and parking spot at Anonymous U but before he can slink away there’s one last administrative detail: his exit interview with HR. Eunice (Pritchard) grills him about parking preferences and his perception of those who fired him while outside a gunman (Nathan Sebens) shoots up cheerleading practice. Self involved Fox News reporter (Alexander Mrazek) was interviewing Fig’s ex girl friend (Lauren Butler) who almost lost he baby to a speeding train, but with blood flowing on the parquet and bodies piling up he needs to rush: Can she just sum up God’s plan for her in 8 seconds or less? We can edit it later.
The production is fast and furious with the sort of frenetic surrealism Fringe handles so well. Janine Kline and Ms. Butler open the show in cheerleading costumes, then slip in and out of a dozen other roles as local ads project on a screen above stage. The spirit of Berthold Brecht appears in the form in small internal plays presented in an awful German accent, and Eunice attempts to better her life by assembling a magazine picture collage of a nice car and a chlorine free office. Mr. Marinaccio is his charming, self-effacing self but is disappointed when his thoroughly logical explanation of his beliefs fails to sway Eunice. And here lies the heart of the problem with this and all the other faith vs. reason shows: No one shows any inclination to change their position. Eunice rationalizes any result of her most fervent prayers while Mr. Fig is unwilling to admit there might just possibly be room for the transcendent or inexplicable. Thus, the partisan crowd can sit in the rows smugly agreeing that Eunice is full of crap, and any dissidents who accidently wander in can reaffirm their belief that everyone else going to hell and “Won’t they be sorry then?” This show is funny and edgy, loud and crass, and about as coherent explanation of why I stopped listening to televised news as anyone could give.
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