‘NO EXIT’ was captivating.
Stage Fright Productions presents Jean-Paul Sartre’s thought-provoking play ‘NO EXIT’ at the Fringe Brisbane Hub in South Brisbane. Directed and produced by Brittany Taylor Hetherington, this gripping production delves into the depths of human nature and the torment we inflict upon ourselves and others. Travel back in time to the tragically glamourous era of the 1940’s and delve into the depths of Hell where three damned souls confront their moral crimes and the torture of polite company.
Sartre’s existential play ‘NO EXIT’ invites audiences to explore the consequences of our actions in a room that becomes a metaphorical prison. Three damned souls find themselves trapped in a hotel room in Hell. They had anticipated torture devices and demons, and yet could not find comfort in the ostentatious lounges they found instead. As the characters confront each other and their living crimes, tensions rise, and the truth of each character is exposed in more ways than one. Although now a reflection of the past, the bleak themes of the play are tragically just as relevant today. Directed by Brittany Taylor Hetherington, this production is deliciously seductive and sinister.
The ensemble cast delivered a strong performance, breathing life into the soulless characters. Each brought a distinct presence that contributed to the intricate dynamics of the group. It was clear the group had strong chemistry and had put a tremendous amount of effort into their characters.
The first of the guests to arrive, Matty Butler captivates as Vincent Credeau, infusing the character with charm and calculated control. With a commanding presence and a subtle intensity, Butler captures the character’s manipulative nature with eerie stillness. It is in the moments when their collected demeanour cracks that Butler allows frightening glimpses of Vincent’s vulnerability to shine through, making their performance all the more disturbing and intriguing to watch.
The second to enter the room is Ada Lukin as the doe-eyed Inez Serrano. Lukin skillfully teases and picks apart the other characters, maintaining a seductive persona while gradually revealing Inez’s manipulative and sadistic nature. Lukin’s portrayal initially seemed flat, however, once the third guest arrived, their immediate brightening certainly highlighted the character’s devious tactics and obsessive nature.
Last to arrive, the vibrant and dynamic Grace Swadling played Estelle Rigault. With a magnetic stage presence, their performance enchantingly captured the hollowness of finding value through another’s eyes. Swadling’s appearance and performance evoked shades of classic Hollywood actresses like Rita Hayworth, adding a touch of Old Hollywood glamour to the production. Swadling The performer immersed themselves fully into the character’s emotional journey and did not hold back during lustful moments of intimacy. Their chemistry with the other performers is palpable, creating effervescent moments of conflict and connection on stage.
Despite their brief presence on stage, Oscar Thelander leaves a lasting impression as the Valet/Bellboy. Thelander’s comedic timing and sense of physicality brings a delightful sense of levity to the intense atmosphere of the play. Their impish playfulness with the other character’s offered delightful moments of comic relief that was sorely missed as the play went on.
Direction by Brittany Taylor Hetherington crafted a highly entertaining yet harrowing story. Hetherington’s lavish set design transports the audience to a plain room furnished with colourful luscious rococo lounges. Hetherington used the limitations of the space well, incorporating the Fire Exit door as part of the set design is a clever choice, enhancing the overall atmosphere of entrapment. I particularly loved the reveal of a brick wall behind the window. Lighting was simple but effective; mostly used to highlight moments when characters become particularly absorbed in visions of those they left behind. The haunting drones, muted musical overtures, and harrowing wind howls in the sound design, created by Kyle Hetherington, heighten the tension and drama with a quirky eeriness.
‘NO EXIT’ serves as a reflection on the consequences of our actions and the torment we endure in our relationships with others. Serving as Stage Fright Productions first production, Brittany Taylor Hetherington has made a triumphant first step. With strong performances from the ensemble cast, the production successfully captures the existential tensions and complexities of the human condition.
‘NO EXIT’ performs until Sunday, 16th of July 2023 at Fringe Brisbane Hub. For more information visit their socials.