New York's Jean Cocteau Repertory will begin its 1998-99 season with Jean-Paul Sartre existentialist masterpiece No Exit. The production, along with Ionesco's Rhinoceros (Sept. 25 Dec. 4), is part of a mini-festival of modern French drama sponsored by the Florence Gould Foundation, and runs Aug. 7-Oct. 23.
No Exit has been produced twice before by the Jean Cocteau and proved an enduring attraction both times. In the late '70s, Eve Adamson directed a popular production of the drama, and, during the 1987-88 season, Giles Hogya's staging was repeatedly extended and consistently sold out its houses.
David Travis, a newcomer to the Cocteau, will direct the theatre's latest rendition of the play. Travis' credits include O'Neill's Beyond the Horizon at Off-Off-Broadway's Chain Lightning Theatre, and Grimm Tales at the Connelly Theater. No Exit stars Charles Parnell, Tracy Atkins, and Elise Stone as three souls condemned to an unknown punishment and confined to the same room, and Tim Deak as the attendant watching over them.
Also scheduled for the Cocteau Rep season:
Rhinoceros, Eugene Ionesco's absurdist comedy, directed by Eve Adamson (Sept. 25-Dec. 4, opens Sept. 27). Tplay, recently revived by Off-Broadway's Valiant Theatre Company, tells of Berenger, a fellow who notices that every person in the world is transforming into a rhinoceros. Berenger fights to remain a human being while everyone around him is turning green and leathery. The play, recently revived by Off-Broadway's Valiant Theatre Company, has been called a metaphor for man's struggle to remain an individual in the face of mass hysteria.
Loot, Joe Orton's dark farce, directed by Scott Shattuck, who also staged Orton's What The Butler Saw for Cocteau Rep two seasons back. The comedy tells of a son who needs to dump stolen money into his mother's casket. Caesar and Cleopatra, by George Bernard Shaw, directed by Robert Hupp (Jan. 15-Mar. 26, 1999, opens Jan. 17). GBS' romantic drama tells of the conqueror falling for Egyptian woman-child, Cleopatra.
Winterset, Maxwell Anderson's 1935 verse drama, to be staged by Eve Adamson (Mar. 12-May 9, 1999, opens Mar. 14). Loosely based on the Sacco & Vanzetti case, the play tells of a son hoping to avenge the execution of his innocent dad.
A sixth play to end the season will be announced in the winter.
For information on the Off-Broadway production, call (212) 677-0060.