Political Satire Brings the Jokes

Christopher M. Williams, Jacque Wilke and John Seibert. (Photos courtesy of Aaron Rumley.)

With Super Tuesday right around the corner, it is a perfect time for a political comedy. North Coast Repertory Theatre’s production of the West Coast premiere of The Outsider uses clever humor, for a hilarious evening of crazy hijinks.

Following the aftermath of a Bill Clinton-esque sex scandal between a “governor of a small state” and a beauty contest contestant, a passionate politician, Ned (John Seibert), replaces the leader.

After the camera shy and antisocial Ned embarrasses himself with a practically speechless swearing-in, his equally earnest and caring chief of staff, Dave (Associate Artistic Director, Christopher M. Williams), hopes to positively change his friend’s negative reputation.

Dave meets with a suave political consultant, Arthur Vance (Louis Lotorto), who believes that Ned’s behavior is perfect for his image. Vance then convinces Ned that his popularity can rise the more simple, stupid and potentially relatable he appears to the public.

Playwright, Paul Slade Smith’s, script does not explicitly mock political parties. Instead, his jokes are focused on humorous and surreal situations.

Smith deserves credit for building up to a resolution that manages to be uplifting, yet with a handful of edgy and warped payoffs as well.

A few of Smith’s gags are a little obvious and cliché, such as a couple of punchlines involving social media, but the majority of the jokes lead to belly laughs, which is in no short part thanks to Artistic Director’s, David Ellenstein, staging.

Ellenstein handles various comedic circumstances with skillful timing, including sequences with witty dialogue and physical pratfalls.

He even directs a few semi-serious scenes toward the conclusion with restraint, which allows these moments to be effective and touching.

Several members of Ellenstein’s crew play off of the political atmosphere. Marty Burnett’s set and Elisa Benzoni’s costumes would not be out of place in a governor’s office. Aaron Rumley’s audio also incorporates patriotic music, including “Yankee Doodle Dandy.”

While there were a few flubbed lines on opening night, everyone killed it during the performance.

John Seibert and Louis Lotorto.

Williams, Lotorto and Shana Wride bring levelheaded personalities and comical charisma to their roles. Some of the funniest moments from them are the ways they react in character to the major unpredictable events that occur.

Natalie Storrs, as television reporter, Rachel, and Max Macke as her reserved cameraman, A.C. Petersen, expertly play people that are jaded, yet end up being more likable than anticipated. It is a testament to their acting skills that audiences will find themselves caring about the cynics as the tale develops.

Bits of broad lunacy are given to Seibert and Jacque Wilke as Ned’s incompetent and cheery secretary, Louise. The co-stars are often hysterically funny to watch, and become more amusing the longer Ned is in office.

Everyone in the cast, as well as Smith and Ellenstein’s writing and direction, allow the eve to be filled with plenty of laugh out loud laughter. Even if the primary elections were not coming up, North Coast Rep’s rendition would still be a relevant and sharp satire.


Show times are Wednesdays at 2:00 p.m and 7:00 p.m, Thursdays at 8:00 p.m, Fridays at 8:00 p.m, Saturdays at 2:00 p.m and 8:00 p.m and Sundays at 2:00 p.m and 7:00 p.m.

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North Coast Repertory Theatre
987 Lomas Santa Fe Dr., Suite D Solana Beach CA 92075 USA Work Phone: (858) 481-1055 Website: North Coast Repertory Theatre website
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