Sunday, August 26, 2018


French philosopher and playwright Jean-Paul Sartre’s 1944 rendering of Hell doesn’t involve pitchforks or brimstone, but there is torment nonetheless. In a new translation by Alyssa Ward and a shrewd staging directed by Bess Moynihan, three members of the newly deceased are escorted to the infernal regions to a sparsely furnished room, where not having a toothbrush will be the least of their problems.

Inès (Sarah Morris), Estelle (Rachel Tibbetts)
and Garcin (Shane Signorino).
Photo credit: Joey Rumpell
Garcin (Shane Signorino), a journalist, is the first to arrive, ushered in by Katy Keating as a grim valet who has heard all of the initial questions from newcomers before. He’s soon joined by postal worker in life, Inès (Sarah Morris), and Estelle (Rachel Tibbetts), a conceited socialite. Garcin, practical and self-possessed, thinks staying to themselves is the best plan of action. Estelle, who needs a mirror almost as desperately as she needs a man to seduce, angles for Garcin’s attention. Inès, the sharpest and most cynical of the three, spends most of her time lusting after Estelle, and is the most upfront about the cruelty she inflicted on those in her life. After brief glimpses of the goings on among the living back on earth, their past wrongs are eventually confessed, and the characters of these three souls are laid bare to each other without the convenience or comfort of pretense. The dynamics between these deceivers, murderers and cowards will doom them to spend the rest of time craving affection that will never be returned, and redemption that will never come.

Inès (Sarah Morris), Estelle (Rachel Tibbetts)
and Garcin (Shane Signorino).
Photo credit: Joey Rumpell
Signorino takes a fine turn as Garcin, growing more and more emasculated as the heroic image he holds up of himself breaks down. Inès sees through him right away, and Morris is in top form -- deadpan-voiced and candid, seeing clearly the genius motives in their being grouped together, and dreading an endless punishment of wanting what she can never have. Tibbetts is like a hothouse flower, fretting and preening as Estelle. Trying her best to manipulate Garcin while trying to avert the advances of Inès leads to constant frustration. Seating the audience on three sides makes for an engaging character study, and Moynihan’s simple scenic design, Ellie Schwetye’s creepy sound design and Michael Sullivan’s lights augment the experience. 

Only one more weekend to check out this fascinating, rarely produced play.


Garcin (Shane Signorino), Estelle (Rachel Tibbetts)
and Inès (Sarah Morris).
Photo credit: Joey Rumpell
Written by Jean-Paul Sartre, translated by Alyssa Ward
Directed by Bess Moynihan
through September 1 | tickets: $15 - $20
Performances Wednesday to Saturday at 8pm

Garcin: Shane Signorino
Valet: Katy Keating
Inès: Sarah Morris
Estelle: Rachel Tibbetts

Stage Manager: Kristen Strom
Lighting Designer: Michael Sullivan
Costume Designer: Marcy Ann Wiegert
Scenic Designer: Bess Moynihan 
Sound Designer: Ellie Schwetye
Dramaturg: Andrea Robb
Fight Coordinator: Ryan Lawson-Maeske
Assistant Director: Lex Ronan
Graphic Designer: Dottie Quick
Photographer: Joey Rumpell

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