After writing a post about Three Year Swim Club a few weeks ago, I was contacted by a small new-ish theater group called “Lonesome No More” and invited to come see their production of Sartre’s No Exit. As an English major who toyed with the possibility of declaring a philosophy minor as an undergrad, I was a bit embarrassed to admit that I had never read the French philosopher’s play. (I did read The Age of Reason around the time I finished my BA, so I’m not a complete slacker…)
In any event, while I was interested in seeing the Sartre play and hearing Travis Koplow‘s favorite line (“Hell is other people!”), I was also somewhat intrigued by the Lonesome No More! company. Los Angeles being a city so filled to the brim with aspiring actors and writers, I’m just so damned impressed by folks who are willing to step out and take a risk like starting a new theater company. Read more of what I learned about Lonesome No More! and my thoughts on No Exit after the break.
The origins of Lonesome No More! can apparently be traced to UC San Diego’s theater department, where founders Meghan McCauley, Dana Murphy, and Patrick Riley met as theater students. In January 2011, they got their start together by preparing for their first production for the Hollywood Fringe Festival (Frank Wedekind’s Spring Awakening), and since then they’ve stayed fairly busy, putting on productions of Making Love Over There in September 2011 and Woyzeck in November 2011. Lonesome No More! is now doing a six-month residency with Combined Artform at the Theatre Asylum LAB in Hollywood, which is where they are staging No Exit through the 28th of April.
No Exit is the tale of three strangers who end up in a version of hell that Sartre imagines, where the very fact that you’re stuck with these other people is the eternal torture you’ve earned for your Earthly transgressions. The characters include a well-cast Leland Montgomery as the ghostly Valet, a somewhat fidgety Stephen Sullivan as Garcin, Sara Garcia as the somewhat obstinate Inez, and Jill Evyn as the lovely-and-she-knows-it Estelle. Having not read the original play, I cannot say whether this updated version directed by Lori Petermann was true to the Sartre’s vision, but I can say that it certainly left this viewer with the distinct impression that being locked up with these characters for eternity would certainly be hellish. Though not quite well-polished, the play was entertaining, and the small theater setting provides a sense of intimacy that may have also helped to drive home the hellishness of other people. I look forward to checking out other work from Lonesome No More! as they continue to get established and build a reputation for themselves.