Sunday, November 22, 2009

- Theater Review - No Exit

Illinois Central College Theatre Program's latest presentation, "No Exit", is a veritable tour de force.

This dark drama is Jean-Paul Sartre's personal vision of Hell. Indeed, the entire one act play takes place in a single room in Hell. The room has one entrance door, three couches, and (of course) no exit. The set is stunning in its simplicity and effectiveness.

The fun begins when Valet, played with devilish abandon by Jacob Uhlman, leads the first of three lost souls into these new eternal quarters. Vincent Cradeau (Brenton Pfaff) is a military deserter, wife abuser, and all around coward. He is soon joined by Inez Serrano (Bethany Shuford), a low-level Lesbian clerk, home wrecker, and all around sadist. The third roommate is Estelle Delauney (Shadia Ghantous), a young attractive and vain woman who married an older man for money. When her infidelity produces a child, she throws the infant from a cliff to prevent her husband from finding out about the affair. This action causes the suicide of her lover and the child's father.

The next 90 minutes chronicle the gut-wrenching interactions of this despicable trio, and we are shown how each creates his or her own individual Hell through personal insecurities and cruelties to each other. This is summed up by Cradeau's declaration (and Sartre's most famous quote) "Hell is other people".

This performance is flawlessly directed by Robin Berkely. Jacob Uhlman has limited stage time as Valet, but he makes every minute count. The other three actors, Brenton Pfaff, Bethany Shuford, and Shadia Ghantous deliver some of the finest performances seen locally in quite awhile. Simply excellent.

Hell never looked so good!

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