22 June 2010

No Exit, by The Hypocrites

Although The Hypocrites are among my favorite Chicago theater companies, I went to this performance of Jean-Paul Sartre's No Exit with some trepidation. It's a play I read and loved in high school as the profoundest thing ever; and like many things I found profound in high school, its profundity has worn off. 

("Hell is other people" no longer feels like a dagger in the heart.)

But The Hypocrites have done a splendid job with this staging, which leverages a hot-pink set, a room with walls angled so that you feel claustrophobic on the actors' behalf before the play even begins. The production toys beautifully with preconceptions of hell; even as the valet assures the room's first inmate, Garcin, that there are no torture chambers, both their faces are drenched with sweat from what we can only imagine are hellfires.

This is not a play with a happy ending, but the performers attack their roles with such energy and humor that you walk out grinning. 

An excellent show.

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