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I have seen hell on earth in a Unitarian church hall. There are some 20 seats, set in a semicircle; the remainder of the circle is made up of an avocado ’50s-style sofa and a fireplace with an unearthly glow. “We’ve embraced the sounds of the church as the background for hell,” says the stage manager, without apparent irony, before leading the audience into the hall for the in-the-round performance. Oh, and did I mention that hell has no air conditioning? You’d think it’d be a cold place, especially as seen by that big brain-on-a-stick George Bernard Shaw. But although its four actor inhabitants glide around each other in icily sparkling cleverness or sizzling pique, the oppressiveness of the underworld comes neither from fire nor ice, but from hot air; one wishes the 2-year-old Feet of Clay company had chosen a breezier script. (Perhaps a brainy-yet-frothy Stoppard next time?) Shaw’s seldom-performed third act to his four-act Man and Superman transports the Irish action into a dream sequence: Notorious lover Don Juan (Michael Price) is met in the underworld by Ana (Kristina Milionta), the noblewoman whose father slew Don Juan in a duel over his advances to her. For the first 10 minutes, Price and Milionta clearly relish Shaw’s arid wit: When Don Juan tells Ana that dead souls go to heaven or hell as a matter of temperament, not earthly virtue, she pouts, “I might have been so much wickeder! All my good deeds for nothing!” Soon, though, the Devil (a suave Jaime Carrillo) and Ana’s father (tin-soldier-conservative Phil Bolin) arrive, Don Juan decides he wants to move Upstairs, and the wet blanket of Shavian ontology settles over everything. What little passion or residual humanity Milionta and Price first revealed is soon squelched by lengthy, clever-dick debates about the true worth of Man. (With Woman as the mere “life force” that sustains Man’s brilliance, you’ve gotta wonder why she’s even allowed an afterlife.) Shaw’s not the only one at fault here, though. Ensemble direction can be blamed for the metronome pace and starchy Great Books declamation that enervate the seemingly competent actors. This production needs a supreme being in the form of a single supervisor. Don Juan in Hell is hardly a hellish experience, and at 85 minutes, it’s certainly not an eternity. But all the good intentions of its cast can’t bring it to even a dreamlike state of life. When Don Juan muses, “Nothing is real here, and that is the damnation of hell,” he’s also found the fatal flaw in this production. —Pamela Murray Winters