Extremities, which opened last night at the Main Street Playhouse, is a play that sheds a light on the perils of the crime of rape. Is the victim partly responsible and inviting violence because of the way she's dressed? Does the victim have a right to exercise her own brand of justice after being violated physically and mentally?
There is very little character development here. The play is intended to be an examination on one of the most heinous crimes a human can commit on another human, while shedding light on the way society -- particularly our judicial system -- views such a crime.
Written in 1981 by William Mastrosimone, the play examines the victim/perpetrator dynamic. It's a dicey subject matter, and Main Street Players seems to have pulled it off, save for a few ticks here and there.
Marjorie (Sabrina Gore) is a young, attractive, single woman living with two roommates. Alone in her home, doing some light cleaning in a red nighty, she is assaulted by a strange man, Raul (Daniel Nieves), who tries to rape her.
Marjorie manages to grab the cleaning solution from the coffee table and sprays it into his eyes. She kicks him, knocks him unconscious, and blindfolds him. She then ties him with a length of rope and locks him into her fireplace with chains. Then, Marjorie begins to torture Raul, affectively turning the hunter into the victim.
The first 20 minutes of Extremities is raw, intense, and uncomfortable to watch. The actors -- particularly Ms. Gore -- managed to convincingly portray a violent struggle where a helpless woman dressed only in what she sleeps in, is knocked to the ground, slapped around, and forced to say uncomfortable things ("Say 'I'm a puta'!") before the man begins to rape her. Rape, after all, is a crime of control more than sex. It's dehumanizing and despicable, and the actors successfully set the tone for the rest of the performance and story.
And it's when the tables are turned, that's when things get muddled.
Once Marjorie is able to turn the tables on Raul, she's left to confront the reality of the situation. She now is committing a crime. She assaulted her assailant, and tied him up like an animal. And because she managed to get away from Raul before he could actually rape her, the burden of proof is on her.
This is a technicality Raul knows all too well, and he'll use to his advantage as he tries to scare her into releasing him. He knows she's got nothing. And he knows that rape is one of those crimes that can be easily manipulated and tweaked enough in a courtroom, that he may not only walk, but also have her be the one who spends time in prison.
When Marjorie's roommates arrive home to find the man tied, beaten, and chained, Raul turns out to be more than just some random stranger.
Look for our longer review in this week's issue.
Extremities runs through August 14 at the Main Street Playhouse (6766 Main Street, Miami Lakes). Tickets cost $20. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 5 p.m. There is a special Thursday performance August 11 at 8 p.m. Call 305-558-3737 or visit mainstreetplayers.com.