By Ilana Walder-Biesanz: On February 22 and 23 and March 1 and 2 (Fridays and Saturdays) at 8pm in the Carling-Sorenson Theater, the Franklin W. Olin players will perform two one-act plays: The Real Inspector Hound by Tom Stoppard and No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre. The shows are open to the public, and tickets are available at the door for $3 for students and $5 for non-students.

Poster for No Exit and The Real Inspector Hound produced by FWOP

Poster for No Exit and The Real Inspector Hound produced by FWOP


Tom Stoppard’s The Real Inspector Hound, written between 1961 and 1962, is a parody of Agatha Christie murder mysteries. At an elegant British country house that is entirely cut off from the world, a murder takes place. The murderer must be among the guests! But in Stoppard’s world, nothing is quite as it seems. The critics watching the murder mystery (which is really just a play within the play) get caught up in the action and are soon in danger themselves. The denouement is surprising, unpredictable, and ridiculous, but it perfectly fits the mad logic of the play.

Stoppard is best known for his play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. Like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, The Real Inspector Hound is full of clever wordplay and self-reference. Listen carefully or you might miss the jokes: as a cast member four weeks into rehearsals, I’m still catching witty quips I haven’t noticed before!

Jean-Paul Sartre is best known as an existentialist philosopher for his novel Nausea and his philosophical manifesto Being and Nothingness: An Essay on Phenomenological Ontology. He was also an accomplished playwright, and No Exit is his most famous play.

In No Exit, three characters (Garcin, Estelle, and Inez) have died and arrive in hell—which they are surprised to discover is a rather ordinary (though badly decorated) hotel room. Their conversation leads them through confessions, attempted seduction, and vicious taunting. The show’s most famous line (“Hell is other people!”) comes when Garcin realizes that an eternity spent with Inez and Estelle is worse than any physical torments he could have imagined.

Sartre wrote No Exit in 1944, during the Second World War. It is long for a one-act play but was deliberately kept to one-act length and performed without an intermission so audiences would not be in violation the curfew imposed by the Germans.

Because we are performing two one-acts in a single evening, we might keep you past curfew. Nonetheless, I encourage you to come see these two theatrical gems—very different, but both thoroughly engaging and thought-provoking.

Ilana Walder-Biesanz, Head of FWOP