March 9, 2014

Hell is other people: That is the startling (and oft cited) epiphany of Cradeau, one of the three characters in Jean-Paul Sartre’s 1944 play No Exit, now receiving a revival at The Pearl Theatre Company. Cradeau’s revelation may be true, but in director Linda Ames Key’s intelligent and well-acted production, it is only part of the story. No Exit presents the audience with 90 minutes in hell. Rather than fire and brimstone, this hell has purple wallpaper, multicolored divans, and a nonthreateningly modernist sculpture that wouldn’t look out of place in a corporate boardroom.

Lighting And Sound America


March 11, 2014

If Jean-Paul Sartre now occupies some dark corner of Hades — heaven would surely be a torment to him — then he must be gazing up with a smile these days, thanks to the Pearl’s revival of No Exit. A work more likely to turn up in a college syllabus than on a New York stage, it proves to be surprisingly playable in Linda Ames Key’s fully clawed production. No Exit is, of course, Sartre’s vision of hell, represented here as a minimalist-chic sitting room dominated by three impressively uncomfortable-looking divans and a towering abstract sculpture. This is the eternal (un)resting place of Cradeau, a former journalist; Inez, a lesbian postal worker; and Estelle, a socialite and unregenerate flirt.


March 17, 2014

Jean-Paul Sartre’s No Exit is a play with a fantastic theme, but, as directed by Linda Ames Key (at the Pearl), it’s not so fantastic to watch. First produced in Paris in 1944, No Exit was the philosopher’s third effort for the stage in nearly as many years. His first significant theatre piece, The Flies, had premièred the year before, when he was thirty-seven; a distinctly anti-Fascist work produced in Vichy-era France, The Flies generated a critical dialogue that helped fuel Sartre’s growing notoriety. No Exit, on the other hand, grew less out of politics than out of the demands of love. Or, more accurately, the demands of desire combined with the fantasy of love.

Stage And Cinema


March 10, 2014

As staged by Linda Ames Key, Paul Bowles’ adaptation of Jean Paul Sartre’s No Exit, a play that imagines three individuals’ hell as being trapped in a room together for all eternity, succeeds less as a conventional show and more as performance art: Ms. Key really lets us feel the tedium and claustrophobia of being stuck in a room with disagreeable strangers and no exit. The only detractions from the success of this hypothetical experience-piece are Sartre’s profound script and the occasionally entertaining performances. As a traditional work of theater however, Ms. Key’s effort suffers from the same assortment of problems that plague so many foreign adaptations: Actors have only a superficial understanding of their characters and their performances want for lack of nuance and emotional force.


March 12, 2014

Unlike poor deluded Blanche DuBois, nobody in Jean-Paul Sartre’s bleakly comic existential thesis, No Exit, depends on the kindness of strangers. At least not for long. The principal characters in this needling 1944 one-act play, being revived by the Pearl Theater Company, learn the hard way that “Hell is just — other people.” Directed by Linda Ames Key in a translation from the French by Paul Bowles, the production unfolds on a set by Harry Feiner that might almost be an antechamber of some suffocating minimalist-chic boutique hotel, with its elegant couches in contrasting colors and its towering statement sculpture nestled in the corner. At least the bellhop (Pete McElligott) is courteous, if somewhat smug and evasive. But what’s that junkyard tangle out of “Hoarders” faintly visible beyond the translucent walls? And why are the guests obliged to share accommodations?