Review by Lissa Gapultos of Extremities: Incline Theatre
What would you do if a complete stranger just walks into your home as if he belongs there? In Extremities, currently playing at the Warsaw Federal Incline Theater, Marjorie is lounging around in her living room, when a man she does not know comes in looking for “Joe”. His ruse of meeting “Joe” sets into motion a series of harrowing moments for both parties. Playwright William Mastrosimone has conjured up a scenario of manipulation, apprehension, desperation and endurance.
This play is a true departure from the typical fare presented by the Cincinnati Landmark Productions, and they are to be commended. Extremities is not a feel-good play; the audience is challenged the entire time with loads of profanity, violence and psychological abuse. In the event that patrons miss the signage posted in the lobby warning of the show’s graphic content, Executive Artistic Director Tim Perrino further emphasizes this message in his curtain speech.
Eileen Earnest in the role of Marjorie is a powerhouse of emotions; her fierce and frantic determination for revenge is the driving force of the play. As the attacker, Raul, Will Reed is hateful and teeming with obnoxious machismo and swagger. The dialogue between Marjorie and Raul is progressively vicious and captivating, punctuating the mental and physical cruelty they unleash on each other. The strong opposing chemistry from these two actors keeps the audience fully engaged. In fact, during one moment when Marjorie decides to let down her guard, one audience member whispered, rather loudly, “Don’t be stupid!”
Marjorie’s roommate Terry is played by Katey Blood, who brings some brief levity to the play when she appears; the presence of her uptight, nervous and vulnerable personality immediately changes the dynamic. Her somewhat passive anxiety then explodes into histrionics during the monologue which reveals Terry’s own traumatic experience; this stood out as the only portion of the show that seemed a bit over the top.
Rachel Mock, as the other roommate, Patricia, conveys a calming force and the voice of reason. She is sympathetic, knowledgeable and humanistic. It should be mentioned that Ms. Mock is also the fight choreographer and should be commended for this aspect of the production. Early in the play a particularly distressing incident is so realistic a number of audience members consciously averted their eyes from the action onstage.
The action takes place in a New Jersey farm house. The set design was straightforwardly rustic (even featuring a vintage refrigerator) and nicely laid out for the required physicality of the show. The blackouts between the scenes of the first act, despite the menacing guitar riffs, seemed to relax the energy of the performance. Costuming was timeless, and appropriate to the personality of each role– anything otherwise might have been distracting, or even comical, considering the play was from the early 80s.
The solid cast impressively navigates this intense drama which demonstrates very vividly the destructiveness of the human condition. They push themselves and the audience into uncomfortable territory, proving that theatre can go beyond mere entertainment to provoke insightful dialogue on the imperfect nature of our society.