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"Exit The King" at City Garage

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A deluded king. A failing kingdom. Two squabbling queens vying for his attention. An obsequious doctor. A dim-witted but loyal guard and a mouthy servant. In Eugene Ionescos darkly comic masterpiece we witness the final hours of megalomaniac King Berenger the First. His monstrous ego has kept him alive for four centuries, but now, Queen Marguerite calmly informs him, the time has come to die. His kingdom begins to collapse around himthe seas rise, nature rebels, crops wither, the young flee, the old fail, foreign enemies close in. Berenger rages, pleads, denies, bargains, supported by the lovely and loyal Queen Marie. But Queen Marguerite, coolly efficient, aided by her smiling henchman, the doctor, draws the king relentlessly closer to his final moment on earth.  At once broadly comic and deeply unsettling, the play alternates between Monty Python-style slapstick and haunting echoes of Shakespearean tragedy. In this, the most Beckett-like of all Ionescos work, we follow an existential journey into the most terrifying landscape of all: our own mortality. In a new translation by City Garage founders Frederique Michel and Charles Duncombe.

"Why this? A once powerful, now collapsing civilization in the grip of a deranged megalomaniac? Obviously, its a scenario so implausible today, so far beyond the imaginative capacity of contemporary American audiences that we must treat it as a historical curiosity rather than, say, an urgent and eerily relevant warning."

Los Angeles Times

City Garage impressively pulls off a metaphysical play without any special effects other than Michels staging. Her direction is simple yet stylized, with a sprinkling of heightened movement and gesture. And while Exit the Kings technical design is minimal throughout the show, its final image is arresting and haunting thanks to Duncombes lighting.

Stage Raw


City Garage in Santa Monica ends up pretty much every year on my Top Dozen list. Eugene Ionescos Exit the King easily falls into this categoryThis production shows the results of a massive effort and incredible precision, so much so we even go on a journey of feeling very differently about every single character from beginning to end.

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