Rapist turns victim in Extremities, at Main Street Playhouse through August 14

Extremities is an exercise in bold theater-making. Written in 1981 by William Mastrosimone, the play examines the aftermath of an attempted rape to cast light on the dynamics between victim and perpetrator. Does the victim invite violence by her dress or actions? Why has rape — a crime that violates the victim physically, emotionally, and mentally — never been viewed by society and the law as an open-and-shut issue?

It's a dicey subject that provokes commentary about our judicial system and the way our culture views justice. The Main Street Players have pulled it off, save for a few ticks and a plot that is, to an extent, absurd.

Marjorie (Sabrina Gore) is a young, attractive, single woman living with two female roommates. Alone at home while doing some light cleaning in a skimpy red nighty, she is startled when a man, Raul (Daniel Nieves), enters the house after the door is left ajar. Raul feigns ignorance when she tells him he has the wrong house, and then asks if he can use her phone. After she insists that he leave, Raul rips the phone cord from the wall and smashes Marjorie's cell phone on the ground. He lunges at her, knocks her to the floor, and tries to rape her.

Prey becomes predator in Extremities.
Prey becomes predator in Extremities.

Location Info

Map

Main Street Playhouse

6766 Main St.
Miami Lakes, FL 33014

Category: Performing Arts Venues

Region: West Dade

Details

Extremities: By William Mastrosimone. Directed by Skye Whitcomb. Starring Sabrina Gore, Daniel Nieves, Andrea Uzategui, and Lucy Nuñez. Through August 14 at the Main Street Playhouse, 6766 Main St., Miami Lakes; 305-558-3737; mainstreetplayers.com. Tickets cost $20.

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Marjorie grabs a bottle of cleaning solution from the coffee table and sprays it into the man's eyes. She kicks him, hits him, and blindfolds him. She ties him with rope and then locks him inside her fireplace. Eventually she tortures Raul — stabbing him with a poker, smashing his hand with a hammer, scalding him with boiling water from a teakettle, and threatening to light him on fire — effectively turning the hunter into the prey.

And it's when the tables are turned that things get complicated.

Marjorie can call the cops, but there's no real proof Raul did what she would accuse him of doing. She is left to confront the reality of her circumstances. She now is the one committing a crime. After all, she assaulted Raul and tied him up. And because she escaped before he could rape her, the burden of proof is on her. Though she was legally violated, no actual rape was committed. This is a technicality Raul is well aware of, and he uses it to his advantage as he tries to scare Marjorie into releasing him.

He knows she's got nothing. And he knows that an accusation of rape can be easily manipulated in a courtroom so that not only might the suspect walk, but also he could put his victim behind bars.

When Marjorie's roommates arrive home to discover a man tied, beaten, and locked inside their fireplace, the situation becomes even more convoluted. Raul tries to turn the women against each other by revealing secrets he picked up when staking out their home. He's in chains but is still in control of the situation, playing mental chess with Marjorie. He plays the victim card well, managing to become a sympathetic figure in the roommates' eyes.

All the while, there's Marjorie, whose state of mind goes beyond traumatized. She wants to eradicate the memory of the man who tried to violate her. She entertains thoughts of killing him and burying the body in her garden, even as he sits imprisoned, starving, thirsty, and severely injured.

The first 20 minutes of Extremities is raw, intense, and uncomfortable to watch. The two principal actors, particularly Gore, convincingly portray a violent struggle in which a helpless woman dressed only in a nightie is knocked to the ground, slapped around, and forced to say demeaning things ("I'm a puta!") before a strange man attempts to violate her. Rape, after all, is a crime of control more than sex. It's dehumanizing, and the actors successfully pull it off, setting the tone for the rest of the story.

The Main Street Players are a small community theater troupe, and sometimes it shows during the performance. The actors' blocking could use a tweak — particularly when Marjorie and Raul first meet. We see too much of Raul's back when he introduces himself, and the play's acting overall is clunky, thanks mainly to a script that sometimes borders on preposterous.

Nieves does what he can with Raul's limited dialogue, but he relies too much on yelling to convey the character's tension and animal-like sensibilities. Sometimes less can be more. But there's only so much he can do when the lines delivered while Raul is chained up are asinine. Here we have a guy who's had chemicals thrown in his eyes, has most likely suffered third-degree burns on his body, has a broken hand, is dehydrated, and has been crammed into a makeshift cell, yet he's spewing one-liners like a Catskills comedian. The lines are unnecessary and detract from the tension and focus.

Despite the scant character development, Gore turns in a strong performance as Marjorie, conveying her rage and anguish with competent poise, while Andrea Uzategi and Lucy Nuñez as the roommates bring a solid balance to the cast.

Extremities is a flawed play, but 30 years after it was written, it remains a conversation-starter, a timely examination of a thorny issue where redemption and hope are seldom found. The Main Street Players must be applauded for tackling such a divisive subject.

 
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cljahn
cljahn

Thanks for reciting the entire play so I no longer have to actually see the play. Next time, save some effort and just scan the entire script in. After all, there have only been several thousand productions and a movie of this script, glad you relentlessly recited the damned thing.

Will the New Times ever hire a theatre reviewer to replace Brandon? Or even someone who knows how to write?

Chris Joseph
Chris Joseph

Hate to break it to you, cljahn, but I don't own any sock puppets.

Nor do I come here and comment under a fake name.

Why, that would be like commenting under a name with only initials!

Maybe Jeff actually just disagrees with you? GASP!!

Anyway, thanks for stopping by!

Jeff
Jeff

Tell us how you really feel. I actually thought it was a great write-up... only making me want more. This is a story that is so good, it could actually happen to any one of us.

My question is: when is New Times going to categorize the schmuck section for ridiculous replies?

cljahn
cljahn

Look, everybody - Chris has his very own sock-puppet!

And don't' worry, Chris - I mean, "Jeff" - when they set up a section for ridiculous comments, I'm sure they'll move your comments into it first thing.

Chris Joseph
Chris Joseph

Congrats on the compliments on your blog. That's fantastic! Just so you know, I don't get compliments because I give positive reviews. They've been called "insightful."

I've also won some awards for my writing.

But this isn't a job interview and I'm not going to list my resume and accomplishments to someone who hides behind a blog and their initials in the comment section of a web site.

For whatever reason you have this bug up your ass for me, and it is what it is.

I hate Bill Simmons. Know what I do about it? I don't read his shit.

Look, I'm not going to get into a pissing contest with you here. It's writing. And like theatre and art, it's subjective. It's either up your alley, or it isn't. The voice either speaks to you, or it doesn't. Some people might love your blog, other people probably think they've read better stuff on a box of douche.

Criticize or "pound away" all you want. At least be accurate. Don't say all I do is recite the plot and never talk about what works and what doesn't. That's out and out bullshit.

If you're gonna be a dick, at least be honest. That's all I ask.

I'm certainly not going to have my writing be influenced by your blog or this personal, arrogant, weird vendetta you have against me.... I just find it odd that you spend so much time and energy tearing someone who alludes your taste down. And if I do someday move on from this position to write something or go somewhere else, it certainly won't be your doing.

You may think you're the theatre review police. But you're not. You're just a dude with a fucking blog. You're a thumbprint on a window of a skyscraper.

Whatever helps you get through the night, friend.

cljahn
cljahn

Many years ago, The Palm Beach Post hired Jack Vitek, a well-regarded sports writer, to review theatre. His first few attempts read like yours; awful dreck that told us little about the actual production he was seeing. But Jack made the effort to find out what a proper review should have, and eventually became a reasonably decent reviewer.

As for your claims that "some pretty important people dig" what you're doing, I can only reply "me, too." There's not a week that goes by where an actor, director, or producer doesn't compliment The Scene. And the thing they like best is that I'm taking hack writers to task for their dreadful writing. Sure, they like it when you say something positive about their show; but so often that positive thought is so vague that we don't know if it's the script, the actors, or the overall production that you're commenting on. And since theatres use those reviews for fundraising, that matters a lot. So yes, I'm sure they like it when you say positive things about their productions, but they'd like your reviews even better if they did less reciting of the plot and more analysis of why things worked - or didn't.

A younger demo does not require crappy writing. Some of the best reviews I've read in the last couple of years came from high school students. And in the past, NT has had some truly great writers. You're not one of them. Perhaps you could be. But not while you defend your mediocrity by whining about the demographic you claim to serve.

Now, I will concede that NT is also home to some incredibly incompetent editors, too, so it's entirely possible that somewhere you have a stack of reviews that actually say something useful about the productions, and what we're seeing is the dreck that should have been tossed instead of the meat and potatoes that your reviews currently lack.

So I will continue pounding away on you, until you start writing passable reviews or you get replaced. Frankly, I don't care which way it happens. But the only way you're going to shut me up is to producer better reviews. And just because I am in fact a true Stage Dude, I will start dissecting your reviews over on my blog, so you will understand where you went wrong, and how to improve your writing.

Because the Dude abides, but he doesn't abide crappy writing.

Chris Joseph
Chris Joseph

Look cljahn, there's nothing in the rule book that says a sports guy can't be into theatre too. Because, hey, I like em both.

And as far as not coming close to providing what you think I should... I've received emails and calls from directors and others in the industry that like what I've done so far in my six months of trying this. So some pretty important people dig what I'm doing here.

If you don't like me, hey, that's cool. The "Stage Dude" thing is just us trying to provide a different voice than the usual mainstream stage reviews you get from the Herald, and the Sentinel, and the PBP, etc.... It's not for everyone. But our site/paper has a younger demo and if the SoFla theatre scene wants to get people other than the "blue haired" crowd to see their shows, then your typical reviewer is not going to get it done. Not at New Times, anyway.

Dolen is a fantastic reviewer. The best, IMO. Go read her if it'll make you calm down. Don't like me? Don't read me. But all this time and energy spent on me on your blog and on every single thing I post here at NT lately is meaningless and, frankly, a little creepy.

cljahn
cljahn

When a poser like Chris Joseph fouls the waters, it irritates the real deal. If sports is his thing, he should stick to that so the New Times can hire someone whose primary interest is theatre. We deserve to have well-written and insightful reviews of theatre, and Chris doesn't come close to providing that."Stage dude?" It's an insult to those of us who work in theatre.

Apg4778
Apg4778

Tsk, tsk, tsk... Don't be so arrogant, cljahn.

 
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