Preview: Little Fish Theatre’s “No Exit”

  • 08/14/2012
  • Terelle Jerricks

Estelle (Leigh Bush) and Inez (Emily Osborne) in Sartre’s “No Exit” adapted by Paul Bowles, directed by Drew Shirley. Playing at Little Fish Theatre August 8 – 23. Photo: Madeleine Drake

By John Farrell

It’s not the weather. That helps. But neither is it the heat in the confines of Little Fish Theatre that makes it hell for an hour and a half.

No. It’s Jean Paul Sartre’s No Exit. An existential nightmare of a play that describes the infernal regions not in terms of fire and brimstone, pitchforks and melted lead, but instead as an eternity of endless conflict between people who have lead poisonous lives. “Hell is other people” is the play’s best-known line, and the three people locked in a shabbily furnished room, without mirrors, without windows, without sleep, are subjected to that hell.

Valet (Mark Schroeder) in Sartre’s “No Exit” adapted by Paul Bowles, directed by Drew Shirley. Playing at Little Fish Theatre August 8 – 23. Photo: Madeleine Drake

Go to hell at Little Fish and you’ll be greeted by a valet dressed in black, speaking with a distinct German accent and holding a little notebook he continually consults. The delicately officious Mark Schroeder makes sure you know you are just in the holding pattern. He addresses guests by name and apologizes for the wait. But then again, it’s eternity. What’s the hurry?

First he has to deal with Cradeau (the elegant Ty Mayberry) who knows he is dead and is ready for medieval torture. But he is not prepared for boredom. The valet tells Cradeau that he is always on call. “Just ring the bell,” the he says. But once the door is locked the bell no longer works.

Two others are housed with Cradeau, the rather vicious Inez (Emily Osborne) and the very sexy Estelle (Leigh Bush.) They begin by ignoring each other, then tempting each other, and then finally admitting their sins but not asking for forgiveness. In the midst of their arguments they pound on the locked door, which flies open. No one is courageous enough to find out what is outside.

The play calls for heat and Little Fish provides the heat. And the simple, boring setting is nothing elegant or even comfortable. Director Drew Shirley lets his players come to terms with each other verbally. The play has a lot of dialogue as the three tear at each other. And he ends it without applause. The valet merely leads all the playgoers, the overflow, out of the theater.

No Exit posits a hell for the modern world. Tortured and psychological rather than diabolical. It’s an eerie and convincing picture.

Tickets are $20. Performances are Wednesday, August 15 at 8 p.m., Thursday, August 16 at 8 p.m., Wednesday, August 22 at 8 p.m. and Thursday, August 23 at 8 p.m.
Details: (310) 512-6030
Venue: Little Fish Theatre
Location: 777 Centre St., San Pedro


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