Firehouse Theatre’s ‘No Exit’ shows you how Hell is other people
When you think of Hell, what do you picture? Probably a lot of fire, a red guy with a pitchfork and horns, Hitler and Bill Cosby are there etc. etc.
Well, what if Hell was just you trapped in a room with perfect strangers for eternity? Jean-Paul Satre, philosopher/playwright, decided to write a play exploring that very concept in 1944. Now that play, No Exit, is being produced at the Firehouse Theatre with a director and a cast who are just as interested in Hell as Satre was all those years ago.
The plot of the show is as simple as it sounds. A man and two women are led into a room by a valet where they are doomed to live out the rest of eternity. While the plot is uncomplicated the themes of the show are not. No Exit deals with the concepts of morality, status, power, and most famously the concept that “Hell is other people.”
Director James Ricks speaks very highly of the existential work and is very knowledgeable about the history surrounding it.
Historical details play a part in his directorial process. “It was produced during the German occupation of France and it’s an hour and fifteen minutes long because of the german imposed curfew on Paris,” Said Ricks. “I think about that all the time, what it must have been like to sit in that audience with the air so full of electricity, danger, and constant threat and then to go and see this play about a depiction of hell.”
In a show where there is no set, no scene changes, and is pretty much as dark as a dark comedy can get, the actors have a huge job. Evan Nasteff, DL Hopkins, McLean Jesse, and Bianca Bryan are well known in the Richmond theatre scene and Ricks has the utmost faith in them.
“These four actors are seasoned pros and I’m very grateful for that because I can just sort of throw them in,” said Ricks. “We did probably a day of table work and discussion and then we jumped right into it.”
Ricks describes the show as “An actor’s jungle gym;” it’s a show that performers can really sink their teeth into. James is not stranger to this kind of work, his background is largely in classical theatre. No Exit is right in James’s wheelhouse, and his passion for the production is very apparent. He hopes that after people see the show their conversations go beyond just the construct of Hell into a deeper dialogue.
“We are born without any expectations placed on us or any values or any ideals. It’s not until we live and make choices and decisions that we create ourselves and our identity. Our actions and decisions are what make us.”
No Exit opens August 14th at 7:30 and runs through the 24th with evening and matinee performances. To reserve your tickets go to firehousetheatre.org.
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