Hell is other people--depending on the company. Or at least that seems to be an underlying theme in Jean-Noel Fenwick's "Talk Show From Hell," a slight but satisfying parody of Sartre's "No Exit" at the Open Fist Theatre.
Fenwick could be labeled the anti-Sartre. Whereas the three damned souls in Sartre's gloomy opus were irredeemably agonized, Fenwick's sinners are intriguing conversationalists who really know how to while away an afterlife.
As machinery chugs offstage, a woman tumbles down a chute into the anteroom of hell. This is Coralie (Samantha Bennett), a recently deceased radio talk show host with feminist leanings and a guilty secret. Hard on her heels follows Christian (Rod Sell), a conservative political consultant, and Gonzague (Mitchel Evans), a flamboyant hairdresser. All arrive wrapped in plastic, like prime cuts of beef lined up for inspection.
A more antithetical trio is difficult to imagine. After tearing off their wrappings--an amusing metaphor for the preconceptions and prejudices they must also shed if they are to achieve salvation--the three evaluate their circumstances. Coralie bought the farm in a glider crash, and Gonzague has just died after a long illness. However, Christian's death is far more mysterious--and he's determined to find out what happened. But first, he has to overcome his natural antipathy for homosexuals and enlist the help of the serendipitously psychic Gonzague.