For a newcomer in the Shanghai theatre scene, Blue Lane is proving to be the red hot ticket in town. After successful productions of David Mamet’s "Oleanna" and Patrick Marber’s "Closer," the group has decided to take another savage play. This time, it's an intellectual work with a roller coaster of ups and downs, John Paul Sarte’s, "No Exit."
The cast of Blue Lane's "No Exit" by JP Sartre
In this play deception, adultery, cowardice and callousness have landed a man and two women with a personal valet escort to hell. The image of hell usually brings thoughts of a scalding furnace where sinners are forced to slave away the hours while little devils burn them with hot pokers. In Sartre’s hell, the temperature is mild, but the company is torture.
Director Michael Beets first discovered this play as a high school student. Twelve years later, he decided to return to the material, this time as a director. Time has given him a new perspective on the play’s subtext. “In order to understand, you need relationships. You need to have arguments, to fall in love and fall out of love. You need all of the experiences of adulthood to understand the themes in this play," he says.
Apphia Cambell (above)
Apphia Campbell, who plays Ines, says the subject matter has forced the actors to take a deeper look at the work. “It’s been a lot of trying to discover what’s really being said because everything is a bit cryptic. You have to take a deeper look into the text. It’s a bit of a mind fuck,” she says with a deep sadistic chuckle--one that you can tell she enjoys.
To help audience members understand this character-driven piece, Blue Lane Production group has created video blog posts similar to confessionals seen on reality TV shows. These “side narratives” will act as a back-story for the characters and add to the overall story arch. With a click of a button, audience members can peek into the thoughts of the characters before the performance. Michael says the goal of this multimedia element isto make “a bigger world for the characters.”
Carlijn van Ramshorst (above)
Carlijn van Ramshorst, who plays Estelle Rigault, says the premise of the play “is like a reality show. You’re put in a room with people you wouldn’t know otherwise and you just have to be. We’re (the characters) like animals in a cage. We’re observing and then attacking, revolving around a piece of meat.” Charles Mayer agrees. “It’s like 'Big Brother,' except it’s been written by a genius.”
Charles Mayer (above)
“It’s good expose of classic stereotypical bravado we show.They’re very Shanghai-like characters, lying about who they are and what they’re really like inside. It’s a big show that gets stripped down and you see the terror that comes from being shown for who you are,” Charles says.
Apphia nods in agreement. “There’s not really anyone trying to become vindicated. We don’t judge each other, only the fact that we’ve not been honest. We all enter in lie and then we pull the cork on the ‘lets be honest act,’” she says.
All things honest here, "No Exit" looks like one Escher-style staircase we’re willing to climb.
Find out more on our stage listing page here.
WORDS: Kate Robards
PICTURES: David Jumpa