Huis clos (Jean-Paul Sartre), 2004
Huis Clos (1944) is set in a hypothetical Hell which is progressively revealed. The play presents three 'absents'; condemned to spend eternity in each other's company, characters who have lived their whole lives in bad faith. Garcin like a tough guy, a hero, impressing his male friends and seducing women with his South American machismo. He has argued that he can be allowed a few failings because of his fundamental courage in opposing the government, but as soon as he is placed in a tight situation he runs away. Estelle is a self-confessed sybarite content to be treated as a sex object. She pretends that all she wants is to be loved, and to make people happy, but, after giving birth to a child by her lover she murders it rather than risk compromising her life with her rich old husband. This drives her lover to despair and suicide. Inès has been guilty of a more devious form of bad faith. Where Estelle relied on physical attraction, Inès fascinated others by sheer force of intelligence and wit. But she cannot engage in a free and open relationship, any more than Estelle, because she derives her pleasure form the suffering of others. She succeeds in separating her friend Florence from her husband and then gloats while both partners drive themselves to despair, also ending in suicide. In hell, each character expects to be able to escape from the situation exactly as they have all evaded similar problems before. Inès tries to fascinate Estelle; Estelle tries to fascinate Garcin; Garcin tries to persuade the other two that he is no fool and no coward. But each attempt is frustrated because their acts are there, in the minds of the other two characters, obstinately failing to fit the interpretation that they would like them to have. Because we rely on others to confirm the meaning of our acts, we are always in their power, 'l'enfer c'est les autres...'
Adapted from David Bradby, Modern French Drama 1940-1980 (CUP: 1984).
Joseph Garcin - Roger Baines
Le Garçon - Erwann Limon
Inès Serrano - Dani Limon
Estelle Rigault - Claudine Tourniaire
Director - Ralph Yarrow
Poster design - Melanie Lavery
Lighting and décor - Ralph Yarrow
Thanks to Rob Little, Doreen Aitken and Jon Hyde from the UEA Drama Studio; The Maddermarket Theatre; Gordon Turner; James Sawrey-Cookson; Nola Merckel and Tim Tracey.