(The four member cast, destined to live together in Hell, performing in No Exit, Jean-Paul Sartre’s play, at the Shadowbox Theatre in Windsor, Ontario, on Feb. 1, 2019. Photo above by Robert Tuomi /Eyes On Windsor.)
At the end of a week in which Hell certainly froze over, helped by a Polar Vortex, Post Productions opened its third season at the intimate Shadowbox Theatre by stepping up with two plays looking at what life is really like in Hades. Although the main course in the evening’s offerings is Jean-Paul Sartre’s No Exit the curtains open first on what Director Michael O’Reilly calls a theatrical aperitif, playwright Harold Pinter’s Victoria Station.
While Pinter’s mini-play is more Twilight Zone, it justifiably sits to the right of hilarious with the deadpan delivery of a cab driver, played right in the zone by Alex Monk. His disconcerting flippancy is enough for his dispatcher, played with less than subtle frustration by Michael K. Potter, to think he has entered his own personal hell. But in the end the message is somehow about romance and Monk’s POB – passenger on board – becoming the love of his life and if all goes well for the girl now sleeping in his back seat of his cab, the wife of his life.
In Philosopher Playwright Sartre’s No Exit, romance too finds its way to the sweatbox known as Hell, but, as one might expect it arrives to no one’s satisfaction. Or does it? There are enough twists and turns to qualify for the maneuvers of a hockey game. Michael K. Potter, as newspaper editor Vincent Cradeau, is escorted into a rather drab room – he describes it as hideous – by a very erudite Bellboy who knows the ins and outs about the place but assures Cradeau there is no out.
Next into the room, which is red and filled with dull furniture, are two women. Secretary Inez Serrano is played with considerable and desirable emotion by Fay Lynn. The other is rich man’s girl toy Estelle Delaunay, acted to spoiled precision by Elizabeth Dietrich. While it looks like Hell could be a fine place for threesomes, Sartre is a little more scheming than that. There are clues, particularly the masculine wardrobe he assigns to Lynn’s character. It suggests, correctly, that she has no interest in men – although looks can be deceiving. To complicate matters, Potter’s Cradeau has no truck with Delaunay, at least initially. Like the winter weather used to be in Windsor, things can change quickly.
The audience learns, at least in Sartre’s mind, about Hell being a place where its new guest lose their toothbrushes – who needs one in Hell – there are no mirrors and the guests never sleep.
All three characters expect that they are in for physical torture. That too would be too easy, and Sartre is a playwright who rarely relies on the obvious, except for the gender affection clues of Serrano. No, in Hell, at least in Sartre’s vision, those who have tortured others while on earth will find themselves tortured psychologically through their interactions and lusts of and with their roommates.
“They are watching, this is all planned,” concludes Serrano, a recurring theme. Indeed there probably is a plan and that is where the play gets interesting as all three actors try to match up with one of the others. How it turns out makes for a delightful evening, almost like dinner theatre with the question constantly changing from “Will he,” to “Will she?”
The version selected for the play is the Broadway translation done by Paul Bowles, which O’Reilly says is a much more condensed version, with an economy of words, when compared with the London translation.
No Exit is directed by Michael O’Reilly and produced by Fay Lynn, Michael O’Reilly & Michael K. Potter. Set design and props are the work of Matthew Burgess with construction by Burgess and Rob Burgess.
After opening night, the play will run on February 2, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, & 16 at the Shadowbox Theatre. Doors open at 7:30pm with the first play starting at 8:00pm. Tickets are $20 each and available in advance online or at the door on the day of the show.
For more information visit http://www.postproductionswindsor.ca
Article and Photos by Robert Tuomi
For over a decade, Robert has covered local news and community events. Initially as a contributor to CBC Radio’s local morning show and then as the long-time producer and host of CJAM’s The Rest of the News and as a journalist at the Windsor Square. A graduate of the Nikon School of Photography he enjoys illustrating his reports with what he sees through his camera’s lens.