The hell you make

Dark Meets Light

Dark Meets Light, 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday; $15-$18. Ovation Stage at the Three Penny Theatre in the R25 Arts Complex, 1723 25th Street; (916) 448-0312; Through April 28.
Rated 4.0

Modernizing existentialism: That’s the concept that Penny Kline, artistic director for Ovation Stage, uses in her updated version of Jean-Paul Sartre’s surreal drama No Exit. As Kline has explained it, her idea for taking on the Sartre classic as her theater company’s fourth production was met with groans of “dated” or “overdone.” So, instead, Kline took pen in hand, kept the original premise, but created more current characters and up-to-date dialogue.

The result is Kline’s Dark Meets Light, and the result is both captivating and suspenseful—all while keeping the original play’s thought-provoking themes.

Sartre set his original drama in an eternal, bleak resting place where a person is surrounded by blank walls while interacting with other similar human beings.

The resulting conclusion: Hell is other people. And your own inner self.

Here, Kline maintains Sartre’s basic story in which a valet brings guests into a stark white room where they have nothing to distract themselves from their own inner thoughts and past life deeds. Kline gives us a present-day cast of characters, misdeeds and issues that include such topics as religion, politics, alcohol, guns, birth control and sexual preference.

The six-member cast—the valet, four guests and a serpent representing inner thoughts—work as a cohesive, talented team. The small studio space at Three Penny Theatre is also painted a glaring white, which presents a stark backdrop that captures the nothingness of eternity. A misstep that breaks the consistent bleak mood is the use of a movie clip at the end instead of having the cast act out the same film scene. Overall, though, prepare for engaging conversations about the issues this drama presents.