If you hate Shakespeare as much as I do, then you will love, love, love Theatre on Fire’s production of Exit, Pursued by a Bear, a play by Lauren Gunderson, which employs unique theatrical concepts like life imitating art imitating life in a play within a play about a wife, a wife beater, a hooker, a homo and a ravenous bear. And it’s all set in Georgia, y’all.
Oh and for you actor types, you can go ahead and forget the word “monologue”. Gunderson has renamed that antiquated babbling a “soliloquy”. Or was it an “alicia keys”. My Xanax kicked in right about then. I took one because I was utterly frightened that, at any moment, I might be drawn and quartered by an actual bear. Those damned actors kept talking about it like it was really going to happen. I were skeered, y’all.
The best performance of the night was by Darren Evans who described himself as “producing artistic director”. He energized the audience with a rousing “alicia keys” that included a rambling ransom demand that went something like "if you don’t want to see this play perish tonight, hand over all of your valued possessions". I was so convinced that I nearly reached into my pockets to offer him a half unwrapped butterscotch candy, a double A battery and a flesh covered fingernail that I confiscated from a recent crime scene in Roxbury.
Cameron Beaty Gosselin was so convincing as homosexual, Simon, that I seriously thought some gay guy literally strolled in from a nearby bathhouse. Smelling of a steam room & burnt coffee and clad in nothing but a cheerleading uniform & a faux hawk/ducktail haircut, Gosselin’s performance was fantabulous!!!!
Samantha Evans, as Sweetheart, done blow me away y'all. And by blow, I mean this girl must have done a mound of it prior to the show. Her energy was through the roof. I was mesmerized by the quick and determined delivery of her lines, several of which I’m sure she “delivered” off stage between scenes. I was completely fixated on her legs which traveled from the floor to the rafters and I could not take my eyes off her back end which, without question, could easily keep up with the Kardashian’s.
Good thing Tim Hoover was not terrible. Otherwise I would have been compelled to say that “Hoover sucked” (Google it). But he did not y’all. I took one look at this actor and was immediately comforted by the fact that he was securely duct taped to a ratty old barcalounger. Hoover was very persuasive as the angst filled, women hating, spit dispensing hick, Kyle. I had to pop another Xanax when they let him out of that chair for about 10 minutes.
As Nan, Mary-Liz Murray not only held her husband captive, but she held us all captive. This is an actress who knows how to find her light in a split second. And boy did she have to do that one too many times during the play. Her portrayal of a battered, abused and tormented wife was, in a word, hysterical. Kudos to her for finding those moments of hilarity in a pretty much completely horrific situation typically devoid of comedy.
And a very special well done to Luke Sutherland, set designer, who lured an unassuming audience in to what felt like an actual small and musty one-bedroom house in the north Georgia mountains. There’s nothing more welcoming than one wall of artillery facing another wall of beheaded woodland creatures. And special credit goes to Eric Propp for putting clothes on all of the actors but one.
Do not miss this show. It's 90 minutes of your life that you will definitely not want back. To purchase tickets: https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/928266