The Exit Interview at Flying H
By Matt McGee 08/07/2014
In your face, Bertolt Brecht!
The infamous German playwright wasn’t a big believer in fun or theater as entertainment and a diversion from societal woes. Brecht preferred throwing reality in the audience members’ faces inspiring them to confront the issues of the day.
Flying H’s new production, The Exit Interview, balances entertainment while paying homage to Brecht’s call to reflect real life — everything from school shootings and car chases to a wrecked economy. But wait! Just when you think it’s all too serious, here come cheerleaders to make it all better! And just when you least expect it, a cute actress (Tammy Mora) comes out onstage and unzips her . . . whoa!
All right, enough diversion. Back to real life.
Dick Fig (Chad Parker) has just been let go from his position at a university. While Eunice (Angela Decicco) conducts his insultingly inane exit interview, text alerts confirm that a gunman (Richard Duncan) is shooting up the campus. A Fox News reporter (Scott Blanchard) steps in to relay the carnage, scoring an interview with Dick’s ex, Mary. (Brenda Evans, who breathlessly and convincingly sprints between multiple roles).
It was Mary who provided Dick with the title of his new book No Religion, No Politics, while coaching him on his first meeting with her simplistic, genteel mother (Paula Maxwell). Mrs. Meredith knows little beyond small talk. “Small talk,” Mary instructs, “polite, inane, meaningless small talk. It’s what you do when you meet your future in-laws.” He tries, but it isn’t in Dick’s nature. By the end of the vignette, his future mother-in-law is chasing her daughter’s new “godless heathen” from her home. Reality is not Mrs. Meredith’s favorite subject.
Dick is the unwavering archetype of the atheist in a foxhole. Gunshots keep ringing out, louder, closer, while Eunice bravely continues her interview and ranting that God is testing her. Eunice is the consistent archetype of Brecht’s “dangerous image of the self-denying woman.” No matter how Dick tries to make her see that a masked gunman is reality, Eunice isn’t having it.
Most of you reading this likely have artists, writers and other such friends in the theater. And you may, on occasion, have thought they weren’t quite living in reality, evidenced by rarely washed cars and often unmet “grown-up” obligations. Cut them some slack. As with Larry Swerdlove’s latest version of The Exit Interview, they’re striving to distract us from the daily intrusions of real life while not letting us forget it isn’t that far away.
The Exit Interview through Aug. 25 at Flying H Productions, 6368 Bristol Road, Ventura. 901-0005 or www.flyinghgroup.com.