Jean-Paul Sartre's Existential Classic No Exit Redefined at A.C.T.
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The last date listed for No Exit was Sunday May 1, 2011 / 2:00pm.
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Both charming and disturbing, The Suit combines a rich musical score with remarkably simple staging as it tells the story of a husband who doles out an unusual punishment to his cheating wife: He asks that she treat her lover's abandoned suit as a guest of honor in their home. Accompanying her wherever she goes, the suit becomes a whimsical yet cruel reminder of her infidelity. African melodies interweave with jazz standards to underscore this surprising, sharp-witted tale set in Apartheid-era Johannesburg, in a haunting production that integrates virtuosic musicians directly into the action. Learn More
Reviews & Ratings
Featured review from Goldstar Member
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Like many of the reviewers before me, I too experienced mixed emotions while watching and then reflecting upon this production of "No Exit". On one hand, as a Francophile and theatre enthusiast, I can see how this version could offend purists. While visually engaging, the use of video screens do create a sense of detachment with the audience. This aspect also works against the energy of the actors, often feeling sterile, existing in a vacuum. Did it feel like I was watching a movie? Yes, especially when I realized that the last part of the play was pre-taped. That realization took me out of the play at the very moment in which I should have cared the most, as it directly precedes the denouement. The ending also reinforced this "play within a movie" feeling by not truly being in the spirit of the original (imho).
Even with those criticisms, I do feel that the way in which the play was presented makes it very accessible to a non-theatre demographic - even those people who wouldn't intentionally go see French existentialist drama would be entertained by it. In the grand scheme of things, attracting and retaining new audiences is critical to sustained growth of live performance. Thus, I see this production as equal parts artistic vision and business savvy – not necessarily an achievement, but definitely not a waste of my time or money.
Lastly, one must ask oneself, what would Sartre think of this production? Seeing as how reality television has become a way for us, as human beings, to process our own individual and collective existential angst, part of me believes he might endorse the director's interpretation. If the director's goal was to create an aloof and cruel world in which our own worst enemies are ourselves and regrets over our actions and unfulfilled potential, then I think this production ultimately met Sartre's mandate.
Quotes & Highlights
“Epic, voyeuristic, theater-as-film staging . . . spectacularly brilliant” —Calgary Herald
“Diabolically inventive . . . a riveting theatrical event” —Georgia Straight (Vancouver)
“A seamless fusion of cinema and theater . . . jaw-dropping” —The Vancouver Sun
“Dazzles with contemporary dimensions . . . freakishly potent” —The Province
“A thrilling masterpiece” —Westender
“Captivating” —National Post
“Brilliant” —The Globe and Mail
“A vibrant, very modern theatrical experience . . . the acting is uniformly powerful and committed, the stagecraft extremely skillful and focused” —The Toronto Star
Fresh from sold-out performances across Canada, Jean-Paul Sartre’s redefined classic makes its U.S. debut at A.C.T. A mysterious valet ushers three people into a shabby hotel room, and they soon discover that hell isn’t fire and brimstone at all—it’s other people arguing about their lives. Sartre’s 1944 existential classic, skillfully reimagined through the perspective of a series of hidden cameras, turns the stage into a cinema, and the audience into voyeurs, as a thrillingly staged “live film” takes place before your eyes. A.C.T. continues its tradition of welcoming the work of innovative international artists to the Bay Area with this riveting multimedia event.