Mary Hopewell Theatre, Dunedin

02/11/2020 - 07/11/2020

Production Details

A pitch-black comedy set in a single room, more specifically, Hell. Three complete strangers are left alone with each other, with seemingly no reason why they ended up in Hell. It looks like Hell isn’t exactly what they expected it to be. There’s no link between them, no mirrors, no windows, no means of turning the lights off and more importantly: No Exit. Welcome to Hell, we hope you “enjoy” your stay.

No Exit is directed by Shaun Swain, a Dunedin local, who has just completed a diploma at The Director’s Programme in Auckland. We are thrilled to offer Shaun the chance to direct his first professional work after completing his course and to bring a classic play to the stage that he will update for modern audiences, thematically tying it to the successful NBC comedy The Good Place.

In today’s increasingly fractured political world, reeling from the ongoing COVID crisis, a black comedy that comments on how we treat one another, divide into tribal groups and cause each other suffering and duress is not only timely but may offer a much needed cathartic release.

Mary Hopewell Theatre 
2 – 7 November 2020
Eventbrite link  

Isaac Martyn
Katherine Kennedy
Shannon McCabe
Marea Colombo

Director – Shaun Swain
Lighting Design – Anna van den Bosch
Set and Prop Design – Alex Martyn
Costume Design – Ross Heath
Production Manager – Audrey Morgan
Stage Manager – Amy Wright
Operator - Asher Dawes 

Theatre ,

Unsettles audience to make them reflect

Review by Barbara Frame 08th Nov 2020

This is the play in which, famously, Jean-Paul Sartre decreed that hell is other people. There isn’t a need for pitchforks of torturers: other people can do the job just as well. So when three of the recently dead come together in a tiny, cluttered space with a locked door, no off-switch for light, and no possibility of sleep, ever, you can just tell that things are not going to go happily.

Originally scheduled for earlier in this erratic year, Arcade Theatre’s production, directed by Shaun Swain, uses the very small set to emphasise the play’s claustrophobia. The room in which the action takes place is cluttered and unattractive, and no-one can take even three paces in the same direction.

After a few attempts at some sort of politeness the inhabitants, none of whom is particularly nice, get stuck in. Dead they may be, but that’s no reason not to attack any shreds of self-respect the others may still be harbouring. Tempers flare, alliances and rivalries form and evaporate, noise levels go up, the pretensions that somehow supported the characters’ earthly lives are punctured, and vilification reaches art-form levels. Each of them will have to exist not only with themselves, which is bad enough, but with the others. For ever.

Kathleen Kennedy is outstanding as former postal worker Inez, who specialises in mockery. Estelle and Garcin, played by Marea Colombo and Isaac Martyn, are more sympathetic, but not much. Special mention must be made of Shannon McCabe’s performance as the elegant Valet, combining the supercilious air of the most snobbish waiters with finely calibrated mischief.

Hyperactive and unsettling, the production is deeply involving. The 25-odd audience was highly appreciative but also, I observed, happy to escape the enclosed space and return to their normal Dunedin lives. 


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Captivating challenges

Review by Emer Lyons 03rd Nov 2020

Dunedin’s Mary Hopewell Theatre hums on the opening night of Arcade Theatre’s take on Jean-Paul Sartre’s No Exit. The stage is set in the round with sparse props on a raised platform. Shannon McCabe plays the exacting Valet, introducing the play to the audience, and the limbo setting to each character as they arrive.  

First on the scene is Joseph Garcin (Isaac Martyn). The Valet and Garcin move in the claustrophobic, crowded set before Inèz Serrano (Katherine Kennedy) is ushered in followed by Estelle Rigault (Marea Colombo). The costume design, by Ross Heath, adds to the unsettling content and further confuses the character’s temporalities.

The comedy kicks in with Garcin, Serrano and Rigault commanding the cramped platform, weaving, ducking and chasing each other. The actors are stunning, each embodying their character uniquely. Their beautiful performances are enhanced by sharp lighting changes, designed by Anna van den Bosch, commanding the audience’s mood and allowing for flashbacks.

Theatre in the round is a challenge to the audience’s eye but director Shawn Swain’s careful touch ensures captivation. The play challenges questions of morality, good and evil, and who really is deserving of a place in Hell.

Arcade Theatre continue to deliver the goods. Their performances are a guaranteed night of polish, absurdism and fun. 


Existential Angst November 3rd, 2020

Is it well known that the premise for, and conclusion of, Jean-Paul Sartre’s Huit Clos / No Exit is that “Hell is other people”? But why is it so for this particular trio? I was told in the 1960s, but have never seen it written in so many words, that they are condemned to eternal torture because the pacifist Joseph Garcin is gay (and ‘in the closet’), post-mistress Inèz Serrano is a man-hating lesbian and socialite Estelle Rigault is a hetero-sex addict (nymphomaniac). Yep – that’d do it. 

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