No Exit | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

NO EXIT, Sentia Theatre, at Stage Left Theatre. Jean-Paul Sartre envisioned hell as a hotel apartment, which in this Sentia Theatre production is decidedly not four-star: the furniture is shabby, the sofas are sprung, the servants are smart-ass teenagers with an annoying habit of talking in tandem, and the guests' wardrobes are as drab as their accents are plebeian. One might, of course, still hope for pleasant company, but the three occupants of this claustrophobic environment are not the sort to conceal their true natures for long.

One would think nothing original could be done with this much produced play (three times in the last six months), but director Marta Suarez and designers Liliana Perez and Coya Paz have chosen to abandon the polished mannerisms and sleek decor of most "classic" interpretations, aiming instead for a skin-shriveling mediocrity more fearsome than any exotic inferno.

The actors likewise dispense with the standard classroom declamatory approach, connecting with one another through a concentration that keeps each player attentive to the scene and to the other actors. Though still in need of some fine-tuning--the leads seem unsure of their characters, and the twin valets have yet to find theirs--Sentia Theatre in its debut production displays a welcome willingness to go to the source for inspiration and build from scratch to fashion something new from something old.

--Mary Shen Barnidge

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