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Hell is Other People - The Blue Room Theatre

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by Marisa Quinn-Haisu (subscribe)
My name is Marisa. I am a fiction writer, a blogger, and a freelance journalist.
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Being stuck in a waiting room is a special kind of hell
Hell is Other People Blue Room Theatre
Hell is Other People explores human fragility and the emotional bonds that connect us. Photo credit BSP

Presented by Monkey Brain, comes Hell is Other People, an absurd re-imagining of Jean Paul Sartre's 1944 existentialist play 'No Exit/Huis Clos' from OFFIE-nominated director Yvan Karlsson. Sartre's play focuses on three deceased characters who arrive in hell and discover that it looks like a waiting room in an office. They are greeted by a worker who forces them to take a ticket and tells them to wait. In time the characters realise that there is no exit from the waiting room and that they have been locked in together to make each other miserable for all eternity. Hell is Other People stars Tim Green as Sam, Kimberley Parkin as Gia, Lucy Wong as Marty, and Nathan di Giovanni as The Worker. The title "Hell is Other People" comes from a line in the original play where one of the characters, Estelle, realises that they are dead and have been trapped together forever as an eternal punishment for their sins.

Hell is Other People Blue Room Theatre
Nathan Di Giovanni is fantastic in his performance as The Worker. Photo credit BSP

I really enjoyed Hell is Other People. Yvan Karlsson has transformed Jean Paul Sartre's one-act play into a dark comedy that uses no dialogue, physical movement, sound effects, shadow and light, and lip-synced dance numbers by the devil to tell a story about the human condition. It can be difficult to tell a story without dialogue, but Karlsson pulls it off. He manages to build so much tension on the stage without the actors uttering a single word. From the setting to the lighting and music choices, right down to the tiniest movements of each of the actors and how they interact together as a group. All of it reveals a little bit of each of the character's backstories and the reasons they ended up in hell.

I really loved the concept of Hell as a waiting room. It's perfect. I was so impressed with the set design of this show. It gave me such strong Severance vibes. The unappealing grey carpet, the white walls, the water cooler, the big number counter hanging above the door, the uninspiring artwork on the walls, the buzzer that doesn't work, and the three chairs arranged in the middle of the room. It was a bureaucratic nightmare.

Hell is Other People Blue Room Theatre
Nathan Di Giovanni lip-syncs along to several songs during the show. Photo credit BSP

None of the actors speak any dialogue in the show but they do laugh, sigh, cluck their tongues, clap their hands, scream, and lip-sync along to songs. Nathan Di Giovanni delivers several fantastic lip-sync performances. I could tell he was having so much fun playing the Worker. In one scene he gleefully messes up the waiting room while dancing along to "Murder on the Dance Floor" by Sophie Ellis-Bextor. I thought that this was an interesting song choice for him. The emphasis put on the introduction of the song 'It's murder on the dance floor' and the line in the first verse 'I know about your kind and so I'll have to play' told me a lot about his character and his motivations.

Hell is Other People Blue Room Theatre
Hell is Other People has a fantastic ensemble cast. Photo credit BSP

There were some great practical effects used in this show. When a new person arrived in the waiting room, their arrival was shown by their approaching shadow, which rose into frame against a back wall and grew in size until the new arrival stepped in through the door. I really liked how they used light and sound to increase the tension in the room. The overhead lights flickered and hummed, water dripped from a ceiling into a bucket, light fixtures dangled overhead, and the customer service button didn't always work. By far the best use of sound in the show was Sam, Marty and Gia being haunted by their final moments. The haunting wail of a baby, the hissing sound of gas, and the click of a gun being loaded.

Hell is Other People is currently showing at the Blue Room Theatre until Friday, 26 May 2023. The show runs for 60 minutes and is suitable for people 15 years and older. It contains stylised violence, fake blood, and smoke and haze. Ticket prices are $32.00 for full price and $27.00 for concession. To book tickets for this show please visit

* Marisa Quinn-Haisu was invited as a guest

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Why? Hell is Other People is a dark comedy about being stuck in a waiting room.
When: Tuesday, 9 May to Friday, 26 May 2023
Where: The Blue Room Theatre, 53 James Street, Northbridge WA
Cost: Full price $32.00, Concession $27.00
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