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Incline Theatre Opens the Season with Powerful “Extremities”

Review by Laurel Humes of “Extremities”: Incline Theatre

Will Reed and Eileen Earnest in "Extremities"

Will Reed and Eileen Earnest in “Extremities”

Two stunning performances are the centerpiece of a powerful production of Extremities at the Warsaw Federal Incline Theater, and make it a must-see for theatre-lovers.

Raul (Will Reed) and Marjorie (Eileen Earnest) meet when he walks uninvited into her house on an otherwise typical morning and sexually assaults her. The tension and horror begin in the first five minutes of the play and never let up.

It is not a spoiler to say that after an intense, well-choreographed fight scene, Marjorie manages to overcome her attacker. Playwright William Mastrosimone is more interested in what happens after the tables are turned.

Even immobilized, Raul alternately taunts and sweet-talks Marjorie. He chillingly suggests that getting the police involved will do her no good – she has no physical injury or witness to prove the attack. But Marjorie can exact her own vengeance. Should she? Will she?

Expanding the discussion are Marjorie’s two housemates, who arrive after Raul is safely subdued. Their dialogue with Marjorie explore other themes of the play: Can the victim be at fault in a rape? Will the legal system support the victim? Is revenge ever justified?

“When you will be satisfied? When you’re just like him?” Marjorie is asked. “I want to be like him,” she replied.

Eileen Earnest is astounding as Marjorie. There is no artifice to this absolutely believable performance. We watch desperate fear during the attack turn to cold anger and morph into nearly psychotic behavior. There is truth in every emotion.

Will Reed’s performance is just as powerful. His Raul is seductive and brutal, and smartly manipulative as he manages to play Marjorie’s friends against her. It would be a spoiler to reveal his state near the end of the play, but I will not soon forget his haunting, seemingly unseeing gaze into the audience.

Kudos to the realistic and functional set design. A quibble is with the important sound effect of a wasp, which sounded more like a small plane!

Extremities is a brave way for Incline Theater to start its District Series. A summer of musicals opened the beautiful new theater in East Price Hill and probably helped bring audience members from sister theater Covedale Center, known for its lighter fare. But artistic director Tim Perrino, who also directed Extremities, clearly knows what’s he’s doing with this terrific series opener of what he calls “big-name titles that explore the edges of human experience.” The series continues with Rent, Avenue Q and Glengarry Glen Ross.

Extremities runs through Oct. 18. Call for tickets at 513-241-6550.