“Hell is other people”
Set upstairs in an intimate room above a lovely little pub in Camden called ‘The Lord Stanley’.. I squashed myself in between two men, academically clad in rounded glasses and corduroy suits. They looked like they knew their Descartes from their Heidegger and I found myself begin to worry that the play I was there to see, was going to be full of linguistically respectful sentences only someone who had studied literature/philosophy might be able to understand. New to Philosophy, I fell for its charm when I discovered… from a little self study that I might be suffering a little from Existential Angst.. and since then I’ve found myself wanting to read/know more, albeit finding the subject a little intimidating as a self starter.
“Remember you’re not alone; you’ve no right to inflict the sight of your fear on me.” Jean-Paul Sartre, No Exit
Performed behind a wooden mesh, I was impressed by the theatre’s resourceful use of both the space and lighting. I forgot to worry about my lack of knowledge and my intellectual looking neighbours as after ten minutes I found myself absorbed in the extremely well acted discourse between the three ‘deceased’ characters.
The story in a nutshell, is a depiction of the afterlife – and punishment is being locked in a room together for all eternity. It is based on the quotation “L’enfer, c’est les autres” or “Hell is other people” in which Sartre very cleverly sums up the hellish reality of living with other people, the struggle for tolerance.. and the struggle of seeing oneself as an object in another persons world. The three characters in this adaption are played by actors Shaban Arifi (Garcin) – Phoebe Higson (Estelle) – and Josephine Berry (Inez).
On leaving, feeling thoughtful, yet in a jovial mood I turned to my friend.. who had been sitting a few rows back.. “So… what did you think?” I asked him… “I thought it was brilliant!” he beamed at me.. “But Becks…” he turned to look at me – a serious expression on his usually upbeat face…
“I think we are stuck behind that wooden mesh.. and we’ve gotta get out…”.
I looked seriously back at him. “Yeah.. I know…”…I smiled back.
INEZ: One always dies too soon – or too late. And yet one’s whole life is complete at that moment, with a line drawn neatly under it, ready for the summing up. You are – your life, and nothing else.”
Highly recommended – go see! It’s playing until the 24th of March… buy tickets HERE
This week Becki is going to find a copy of Bertrand Russell’s ‘The History of Western Philosophy’ and start reading it on recommendation from the very nice man who was sitting next to her…. a great place to start apparently… 😉
SARTRE FACT: Sartre was awarded the 1964 Nobel Prize in Literature but refused it, saying that he always declined official honors and that “a writer should not allow himself to be turned into an institution”
Until next time folks.. have a good week..