Sample Play Review on No Exit by by philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre

Sample Play Review on No Exit by by philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre

No Exit (Huis Clos) is a play by philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. The play was first performed in May 1944, at the Theatre du Vieux-Colombier in Paris. It was first staged in America in 1946 at the Baltimore Theatre. The production run by Burton Taylor Studio perfectly conveys the characters convincingly well.

The play has four characters Valet (Lianna Holston), Garcin (Nils Reimer), Ines (Jessie See), and Estelle (Lydie Sheehan). ‘No Exit’ focuses on how our own actions and choices impacts on people around us. Commonly referred as “Hell is other People,” the play exhibits how one’s actions constantly deny his or her neighbor’s peace. The play also epitomizes the idea that other people’s perception of us shapes how we think about ourselves. The aspect of us feelingly closely scrutinized by people around is also evident in the play. Valet escorts Garcin, Estelle, and Inez to the same room in Hell, and lock them inside after their deaths. Whereas the three had expected torture, the new room has no sign of torture element, but a huge sense of order and luxury in Second Empire Style. However, the three later realizes that they are each other’s torture element.

The stage performance was very epic. Almost everything falls into place, making the performance captivating and very memorable. The performance of the play is majorly centered on character interaction, hence there are no elaborate props or settings.

The lighting system by Robert Goode was perfect. The simmering red light creates a perfect mirage of  Hell, and brings a huge sense of originality. The cold blue ray on Estelle when Inez and Garcin persistently ask her why she is in hell, is a spotlight on her for a while, perhaps as a representation of her crime. Estelle had cheated on her husband, and drowned her illegitimate baby. The harsh blue ray is a classic representation of her crime before she passed on.  The bloody red light perfectly accentuates the image of an incident as unlike normal life. This is very critical as the play is a projection of what happened after the three, Garcin, Inez and Estelle experience their deaths. The lighting also creates vision-like imagery of what happens after death.

Since the performance looked simple without complex props, costumes and set designs and movement, the setting had to be in a way that it brings out the best in terms of performance. The play starts with the three characters in a small room, with the door closed firmly behind them. The small confinement holds them together with no ability to escape. With time, they realize they are the element of torture for each other. If the room had an exit, either of them would have escaped the torture. Inez demands that they confess their sins, after it becomes very hard for them to get along. She is convinced they did not end up in the same room by mistake.  The three confess their sins. Garcin cheated on his wife, Inez seduced her cousin’s wife, while Estelle cheated on her husband, and drowned her illegitimate baby. The small room with no exit gives an opportunity to Estelle to seduce Garcin. He gives in. This drives Inez crazy. The setting of a small room with closed door in the theatre was very effective. It created ‘Hell’ for the three. In as much as none was comfortable with whatever the other was doing; he or she had no choice but to put up with it.

Jesee See (Inez) stood out in her performance. She mesmerizingly conveyed the complexity of her character. She is manipulative and cruel. This helps her in dominating the people around her. Her performance portrayed her as someone who understood the quality of her character.  Nils Reimer (Garcin) did exceptionally well in parts where he was the sole speaker. However, he failed to bring out the brutally charged side of Garcin. His soft demeanor was his major undoing. Lydie Shehaan perfectly portrayed Estelle as a double natured person who is shallow and childish. However, she failed to transition smoothly between the two natures of Estelle.

In the play, it is evident that one of the major visions was a focus on how we become torture elements to people around us. The play depicted how we make lives of people around us unbearable, relatively well. First, the confinement in one room was very effective, creating an ideal situation where although we are irritated with our neighbor, we have no choice of avoiding the situation. The creation of three characters with very sharp behavioral differences was very ideal, as it makes it even harder for them to get along, resulting in torture. For instance, Garcin accepting Estelle’s seduction pushes Inez to the brink. He becomes crazy and very jealous about it.

The play production and presentation was perfectly done. The setting and lighting were perfectly done. The lighting added flavor to the performance making it appear more real, especially the use of simmering red light, and the cold blue light. The play was delivered in a every enticing way, despite it being a dark play. No Exit is a very interesting play, and one should try and watch it if they have not.