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NO EXIT, Runamuck Theatre Company, at Live Bait Theater. In this version of Jean-Paul Sartre’s play, the couches occupied by hell’s most recent immigrants command more attention than their tenants–because the sofas in this Runamuck Theatre production are played by three actors in clown makeup whose silent shenanigans usurp most of the subtextual revelation and virtually all the visual and kinetic focus. Left with little more to do than recite lines, the actors relegated to playing the three actual characters nevertheless attempt to deliver fully crafted performances–indeed, Dawn Erinn as Inez is so strikingly original that one longs to see her play the role in a less cluttered context. And they sometimes succeed in conveying the subtle abrasiveness and bitter humor of a script by the man who invented existential angst.

Director Jemma Alix Levy is to be commended for her effort to do something new with this oft-revived work, but unless one is familiar with the text and all its ramifications, little of its philosophical content will survive such an exercise, which is more inventive than it is illuminating.

–Mary Shen Barnidge