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No Refund Theatre Presents: ‘Quick Exit’

No Refund Theatre returns with the third production of its spring catalog. This week, the organization presents “Quick Exit.”

Written by Chris Herron and directed by senior Armand Zeibari, “Quick Exit” tackles themes of death, adulthood, and religion as a dark comedy. Set in a shoddy apartment in modern times, the play centers around four unnamed strangers battling intense emotional torment while contemplating means to end their suffering.

Strolling into the rundown apartment from different walks of life, the strangers speak freely about their troubles, revealing their innermost secrets while hiding details as basic as their first names. Drained by life, the strangers are united by their desire to find peace in the afterlife by the relief of a pill.

As the minutes tick by, the four strangers spark conversations over a humble meal of pizza and alcohol. When young pizza delivery boy Dale arrives at the scene, the quartet embraces the zany lad and life itself seems a bit more livable through the night.

Yearning for rest yet hysterically more alive than ever, the characters find comfort in each other and propose an undeniable theme: Connection sprouts in the strangest circumstances, but only if one is willing to understand the perspective of another.

After building a cast to portray the dynamic roles, Zeibari prioritized character work as the starting point of the production process.

“I was always told, ‘If you are gonna direct a play, find a play that really resonates with you that you really wanna do,’” Zeibari said. “One of the first rehearsals we had was purely just character work…. I wanted the cast to actually bring the character to life…”

Adding layers to people only described by numbers, the cast strived to follow Zeibari’s vision and discover meaning in every detail.

“This is by far the most real show I’ve been in, especially recently,” NRT veteran Muggs Leone said. “Because while it’s still a drama with some unrealistic aspects, it’s very much just real-life people in an apartment talking about their problems.”

Playing the role of Four, a seasoned actress most identifiable in the group, Leone found realism in the work of fiction to be quite different than his most recent appearance as Frank ‘N Furter in No Refund Theatre’s “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

Acting alongside Leone, actor Jason Scansaroli spoke of his take on the production’s core traits of honesty, tolerance, and friendship.

“The show rides a really great line between being really funny in a very dark way, but also being very genuine and in a strange way, heartwarming,” Scansaroli said. “The writing and all of the dialogue just feels like natural conversation.”

Portraying the role of One, a wealthy banker left unfulfilled by monetary resources, Scansaroli found real relationships to be an asset when tackling the script. Describing meaning in the process, he also enjoyed the opportunity to work with director and childhood friend, Armand Zeibari.

“When I saw that he was directing something, I was like ‘That’s amazing,’” Scansaroli said. “I wanted to be there for my best friend.”

Adding onto the theme of identity, senior Olivia Black fills the role of Two, a cancer patient struggling to cope with the loss of her physical and mental health.

“She’s very blunt and stern and to the point, and she thinks that everything she’s doing is right and everybody else is wrong,” Black said. “You see that wall she puts up is coming down, and you see her let her guard down.”

Close in bond with other NRT veterans, Black reflected on her final role with No Refund Theatre.

“As the show goes along, you kind of see this deeper part of her, and to show that character arc throughout the show is definitely a challenge,” Black said. ” It’s been quite the journey…a full-circle moment.”

Juxtaposed against the intensity of other characters, junior Nathan Carter adds both another perspective and comedic relief. In the role of pizza delivery man, Dale, Carter cracks one-liners designed to mirror life’s way of bringing light to the darkest of times.

“Dale is confronted by darkness, and he kind of brushes past it and finds the comedy,” Carter said. “I tried to find a place or a state of mind where he was in his own world, and he tried to do his best to bring others into his world.”

Acting against the backdrop of a typical apartment setting, the cast appears within the set design as well. Nods to the characters include a depiction of five drinks to represent each person and a sign reading “No Bad Days” in direct opposition to the play’s plot.

Adding onto the real-life feel, the cast also eats, drinks, and laughs together onstage, taking every opportunity to connect with the audience and each other. Here, Zeibari also updated references from the original work with homemade flair.

“If they become outdated, you can change them, and we very much took that to our free liberty,” Zeibari said. “We crafted the script to make it more relevant towards NRT’s history and recent history. I’ve smiled at it every time because it’s like our own little twist we get to put on it.”

Viewing these moments time and time again, assistant director Andrew Comer shared his perspective on the welcomed addition.

“There’s a lot of stuff within the show that never gets old,” Comer said. “There’s some bits of the show that just get me every time.”

Laughing along together, senior Mariam Fostok reflected on cast bonding in the club after joining last semester.

“Of course we started out as strangers, but I got to make friends out of all of them, which just made me so happy to be part of something,” Fostok said. “… I finally was enjoying myself in college. This was the first year where I was like ‘Oh wow, I’m actually sad that this is almost over.’”

Echoing sentiments from the opposite perspective, freshman and assistant director Emma Smith shared her joy for the process.

“I love theatre, and it’s people like this cast and these directors and crew that make it so much fun,” Smith said.

Looking forward to the upcoming premiere, Zeibari synthesized a final message of “Quick Exit.”

“What I want the audience to know is that everyone is different,” Zeibari said.”… Everyone has their own stressors and everyone is different in that way, even though it’s very difficult at times to think of it that way.”

Three performances of “Quick Exit” will play at 8 p.m. on Thursday, February 2, Friday, February 3, and Saturday, February 4, in Forum 111. A trigger warning is emphasized for language, suicide, and depictions of drugs and alcohol.

As always, all No Refund Theatre productions are free of charge.

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About the Author

Lizzie Palmieri

Lizzie is a senior majoring in Marketing and Psychology from Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Ask her about Disney World, Diet Pepsi, or dancing on the Jumbotron at Beaver Stadium. When not causing general trouble, Lizzie enjoys playing golf, performing in the theatre, and being the CEO of reorganizing the fridge. Her favorite thing to do is hang out with her sassy sidekick, 19-year-old Italian Greyhound, Macaroni. Follow her on Twitter @lizziepalmieri if your deepest desire is bestie vibes only.

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