No Exit | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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No Exit, Speaking Ring Theatre, at the Chopin Theatre. Every audience member here has a front-row seat, arranged around the perimeter of a tiny brightly lit room, and an unimpeded view of those sitting opposite. Furthermore the walls at our backs, fashioned from stretched jersey, allow us to hear and see whispers, bodily noises, and silhouetted images, reminding us that there's no privacy in hell--precisely Sartre's point in this play.

Then three guests--an effete young man in natty suit and hat, a lanky Lara Croft look-alike, and a wholesome lass in virginal blue--are ushered in by an unctuous valet. They proceed to annoy one another with lofty self-justifications and fervent denials, which are immediately exposed by the ghostly folks behind the jersey--an unnecessary intervention in the case of Inez, who makes no secret of her crimes or, as played by Chantelle Daniel, her sexual preferences.

The "outworlders" in this production do tend to telegraph discoveries, permitting the three main actors to neglect their interpretations, but their presence shows imagination. And directors Jennifer Leavitt and Charles Karvelas keep the stage picture visually and kinetically intriguing despite the cramped quarters. Indeed, our relief when finally allowed to depart confirms the success of Speaking Ring's approach to this frequently produced work.

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