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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Hell: Not all Flames and Demons After All

UMB’s Performing Arts Department presented “No Exit,” a play written by existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre. The show, directed by Laura Schrader, was performed in the McCormack Theater last Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 8pm and on Sunday at 2pm.

The play was a one-scene act with no intermission. The setting: Hell. However, it was not the typical image of Hell, where one may think of a person being scorched with flames while being tortured by hairy demons for all eternity.

No, it was a room. A bright room shaped like a semi-circle, equipped with three pieces of furniture, two couches and a hot pink armchair. One bloody statue sat alone in the background next to a letter opener. Of course, it wouldn’t be used to open letters, for no letters are sent to Hell. One by one, the bellboy, played by Lynneric Powell, escorted three characters into the room.

Garcin, played by Shaheen Mohammadipour, was the first to enter the room. He seemed anxious, asking the bellboy if there were any beds to sleep in. The bellboy replied by telling him there would be no sleep. Next, Inez, a played by Deborah Malone, entered the room, not asking any questions to the bellboy. She seemed very confident in herself, but was not polite.

The last person to enter the room was a high maintenance woman named Estelle, played by Ana Torres. She was mortified at the thought of the room containing no mirrors. How could she check her make-up? Surely, she was in the right Hell.

The three characters were locked in this room for eternity, with no exit. Sartre used their bickering to reveal why these three deserve to share a Hell together.

Inez made it clear she was a lesbian by perpetually making passes at Estelle and at the same time exclaiming her negative feelings about men. This left Garcin sulking, as he sank into one of the couches, head in his hands.

The play continued, and it was obvious the three would never be at each others’ throats for a long time. Ken Longworth wrote in the Newcastle Herald, “While existential writer Jean-Paul Sartre used the play to promote his ideas about people losing their free will, he wrapped them in the trappings of melodrama so that the audience is continually intrigued by the revelations of the characters’ flaws and crimes.”

However, the characters are able to peek in on earth, to see life continuing without their presence. This upsets all of the characters and the climactic moment is when Garcin pleadingly bangs on the door so he can be let out of this room with the two women. When the door eventually opens, Garcin backs away and the door shuts. Inez shouts, “We’re inseparable! What a scream!” The three eventually learned to share Hell by accepting each others’ flaws and wrong-doings.

The actresses and actors were passionate in their performance, each doing an exceptional job at portraying Sartre’s characters. Check out the UMB Performing Arts Department upcoming event “Antigone” by Jean Anouilh, directed by Danny Gidron. Shows will be playing on May 6, 7 and 8 at 8pm in the McCormack Theatre.