By Allie Kantack
Moral standards are like fingerprints; we each have our own set that differ from everyone else’s. Unfortunately, we sometimes let our differences keep us from understanding one another. In their production of “Exit 27,” North Hennepin Community College invites us to step into someone else’s shoes and experience an ethically new point of view.
Although based on true events, “Exit 27” was more than just a retelling. After four boys are banished from a Mormon fundamentalist group, they each rediscover their faith and how far they’ll go to defend it. In turn, the level of realism invited the audience to question their own judgments on what it means to be a good person.
The cast’s performance proved both technically and emotionally effective. Not only did actors exhibit outstanding delivery and movement, but they also developed deep, authentic characters. Actors also demonstrated a seamless execution of stage combat, as violence was accompanied by believable reactions and painful cries. Reaching this level of realism not only empowered the play but also generated an emotional response.
Even more impressive was the spectacle–particularly its attention to detail. Designer Soren Olsen produced a convincing and ominous set: a rugged shack with crumbling walls and a barbed wire fence. Adding to the realism, the scenery immediately caught the audience’s attention and maintained it.
However, the thrust stage did not serve this design well. Slated pallets obstructed the view for anyone on house left, and a door for some on house right. While the actors played the thrust stage well, the scenery did not. On the other hand, actors made up for poor sightlines with crisp diction and proper volume.
“Exit 27” illuminated a world that needed light. It humanized a belief that many do not understand and respectfully reminded us that what seems wrong to one person may feel right for another. Ultimately this play challenges us to discern the difference between what we believe and what we’ve been taught to believe.
Playwright: Aleks Merilo
Director: Mike Ricci
Cast: Brandon Hawfitch, Nathan Watschke, Jacob Bencker, Caid Goodwin, and Mathilda Elrod.
Design Team: Soren Olsen, Laurie Olson Williams, Mike Ricci, and Michael Anderson.