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No Exit

is more artifice and attitude than a persuasive cauldron among three new residents of Purgatory — all of whom have done rotten things in life and whose hell is now designated to be one another’s eternal, infernal company. I’m told there were tech problems the night I attended, but the core of the problems lies with the acting and with the drawbacks to Matthew Hannon’s puppet-string concept. Jean-Paul Sartre’s French classic was always a talky existentialist primer hanging on the subtle interactions and reversals among lesbian predator Inez (Annabel Turrado); pretty, cruel Estelle (Nichole A. Jouibert); and chicken-hearted journalist Cradeau (Matthew Hannon). From the get-go, with the arrival of the Valet (Bobby Gold), all glares with chiseled bare chest popping through suspenders, it seems we’re in another revival of Cabaret but without the music. The hostility of Inez, in short red skirt, fishnets and garters, to everything and everybody starts overtly and floats there for 90 minutes. Baby doll Estelle is all in white, also with fishnets, but with lacy frills, pumps and teensy skirt, like a pedophile’s wet dream. She moves with little jerks, a puppet on a string, which may be the impediment to anything plausible coming out of her mouth. I don’t know, the Wooster Group can make this kind of thing work. Hannon’s Cradeau fares best, but this isn’t a one-man show. The problem isn’t the tech, which is very elaborate, with Megan Fraher’s costume, Annabel Turrado’s stylistic makeup and Garomino Guzman’s set, which includes a door frame rimmed with the chalky handprints of desperate souls trying to grasp their way out — a feeling I started to empathize with. The problem lies in the hollowness of the human interaction. And accompanying some of the long speeches with pop songs is anything but a viable substitute. Tuesdays, 8 p.m. Starts: April 8. Continues through May 20, 2008

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