Wednesday, April 27, 2011

No Exit

No ExitOver the weekend I saw the Electric Company Theatre's "live film" adaptation of No Exit, presented by A.C.T. The production remakes the scenario of Sartre's play by changing the audience's point of view. Each of the main characters enters through the auditorium & is led by the valet into a small room just off stage. We see & hear what happens in the room on 3 large video screens, but the actors never appear before us again; their performance is for the cameras. Even though the set-ups are static, the ingenious staging allows the actors to create cinematic close-ups, two shots & three shots. Edits are created by switching between cameras. A hand-held camera eventually enters the mix as the characters become increasingly over-wrought. The device generates a sense of claustrophobia better than a traditional staging would. The room is clearly small, so I'm sure that the actors' placements have to be exact, but they executed the show flawlessly. There is even a visual joke involving an actor standing in the cameras' blindspot, so that all we see is his disembodied arm. In the final minutes, we discover that both the actors & the audience are trapped in a theatrical ritual.

The intermissionless show runs barely 90 minutes. It would be hard to keep watching the video for longer than that. Afterward, the audience was invited to view the off-stage set. I don't think the staff likes this part of the event. A grouchy usher yelled at us to line up against the back wall, & another made sure that I did not dawdle when I finally got my peek at the set. My curious theater companion noticed a sink full of toothbrushes on the stage. It's not visible to the audience, but the joke is obvious to anyone who has just seen the play.

§ Electric Company Theatre
No Exit

by Jean-Paul Sartre
Paul Bowles (Adaptor)
Kim Collier (Director)

Jonathon Young (The Valet)
Andy Thompson (Cradeau)
Laara Sadiq (Inez)
Lucia Frangione (Estelle)

Presented by A.C.T.
23 April 2011 8p


David Lasson said...

Maybe the grouchy ushers took their cue from a notion found in the play, that "Hell is other people." (It's hard to believe that this existential "philosophy" once had many adherents and produced literally hundreds of doctoral dissertations.)

Axel Feldheim said...

We probably were the Audience from Hell. After all, the show was over, & no one was going home.