Photo: David Epstein
My knowledge of Jean-Paul Sartre's No Exit was limited to the line, "Hell is other people," so I grabbed the opportunity to see the Invisible City Theater Company's production of John Bowles's translation of Sartre's existentialist classic. Because their production of Arcadia years ago was excellent, I was optimistic about Invisible City's No Exit and I was mostly not disappointed. Granted, the production is not perfect. Cecelia Frontero doesn't nail the role of Inez, and her odd-fitting pants distract from her performance. There is little by the way of production values, and some of the light cues are arbitrary and annoying. But, on a whole, the cast and director David Epstein provide a vivid, emotional, hard-hitting production of Sartre's still timely play. The storyline is simple: three people are locked together in a room in hell for eternity, and they discover little by little that they are one another's punishment. Cradeau (Alex Cape) is a hard-hearted coward; Estelle (Jenna Doolittle) is an adulterous blonde who has murdered her own child; and Inez is a cruel lesbian who pushed her cousin aside to be with his wife, eventually leading to her cousin's death (interestingly, the play doesn't point to her lesbianism as the source of her evil, but rather to her behavior, an advanced point of view in 1944). The three jostle for power and allegiances and maybe redemption, all the while knowing that they are damned in the most horrible, permanent sense of the word. Invisible City's production is funny, unsettling, and satisfyingly claustrophobic.