If you “let the people decide,” they’ll doubtless call Scripps Ranch’s The Outsider the winner

From the first beat of the pre-show announcement to the very last scene, get ready to laugh your way all the way out of the governor’s office; Scripps Ranch Theatre’s newest offering, The Outsider by Paul Slade Smith, is a searingly hilarious political satire that is not to be missed! Running through October 9, this production, directed by Christopher Williams, enjoyed a well deserved standing ovation on opening night.

Adam Daniel and Robert May. Photo Credit: Ken Jacques.

Adam Daniel and Robert May. Photo Credit: Ken Jacques.

The Outsider follows newly appointed Governor Ned Newley as he scrambles for a foothold in the wake of his predecessor’s untimely ousting. From the first moment he is sworn in, it becomes apparent that, although Ned is brilliant with policy, he has an utter lack of interpersonal skills in high pressure situations. While this is terrifying to his champion and Chief of Staff, Dave Riley, bigshot political consultant Arthur Vance is delighted. “Real” is polling well, according to pollster Paige Caldwell. And what better way is there to succeed, after all, than to give the public what they want? After all, “unprepared,” Vance claims, “is where it’s at.”

The ensemble show is perfectly cast; each character brings its own set of idiosyncracies, and every single choice works. Robert May enters the stage with a lovable buffoonery as the new governor, carrying visible anxiety in the trembling of extremities, shuffling gait, and under-the-breath muttering. Firmly in his boss’s court, Adam Daniel is comic gold as the too-good-for-politics Chief of Staff who is trying to build said staff in real time. He is idealism and conscience personified, with outrageous physical comedic reactions; I can only imagine how exhausted he must be after each show. John Nutten arrives on stage as the charismatic Arthur Vance, larger than life with his smize and hand gestures and, paired with competent and confident Deborah Dordaro as Paige… well, it’s just so… political. Michelle Marie Trester’s vacuous portrayal of Louise Peaks had us cackling from the start of act 1, setting the stage for her to inevitably find herself in the wrong place at the wrong time, just in time for the journalist team of bitter reporter Rachel Parsons (Leigh Akin) and disengaged cameraman AC Peterson (Walter Murray) to go live on TV. Hilarity ensues. And just wait until you get to the color system scene!

Michelle Marie Trester, Robert May, Leigh Akin, and Walter Murray. Photo credit: Ken Jacques.

Michelle Marie Trester, Robert May, Leigh Akin, and Walter Murray. Photo credit: Ken Jacques.

The intimate stage of Scripps Ranch Theatre, housed on Alliant International University campus, is a great venue for this production, and hats are off to director Christopher Williams and his production team, who have transformed it into a comfortable political office. The set, which features wood grain and cream with deep burgundy accents, is well apportioned. In fact, it feels almost surveillance-like to peek into the inner workings of this (very dysfunctional) government office, and that is a testament to the skill of the team in writing and executing blocking with such a long and shallow room. 

When all is said and done, The Outsider, with its clever, satirical writing (and scathing criticism of the drama at the heart of all politics), is worth the trip to the polls at Scripps Ranch Theatre on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through October 9.

View the program.

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Scripps Ranch Theatre
Work Legler Benbough Theatre Alliant International University 9783 Avenue of Nations San Diego California 92131 Work Phone: (858) 578-7728 Website: Scripps Ranch Theatre
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Cassiopeia Guthrie

Cassiopeia Guthrie is a journalist, educator, and business consultant based in Southern California. Cassiopeia earned her bachelor's in journalism at San Diego State University, an executive master's in business administration from Quantic School of Business and Technology, and completed a training in photojournalism/storytelling for impact with National Geographic. She boasts 20 years of success in digital content development, project management, curriculum development, and business leadership across the education, media/entertainment, and communications industries, including running a scholastic journalism program as well as a social media/social PR internship program for a branding agency. Cassiopeia has 12 years of experience with nonprofit theatre management and production and is an Aubrey Award winning actress with numerous credits to her name at a variety of San Diego theaters. Cassiopeia's writing has been seen in publications including People Magazine, Broadway World, Vista Press, City Beat, Valley Roadrunner, Escondido Times-Advocate, and others, and she has been seen discussing theatre on local television stations including CBS, NBC, ABC, and KUSI.

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