By Aiden Smith, Staff Writer
“It’s either him or us” is a line frequently heard during Masquers theatre program’s emotionally intense production of “Extremities.” It was presented in the Jenkins Hall Black Box Theatre April 5-8*. The show consisted of actors Amanda Gibson, Harris Cutcher, Ashley Ball and Shellie Bunce. William Mastrosimone wrote the play and Andrea Frankle directs it along with her assistant director Olivia Quillman.
“Extremities” is based on a comment the writer heard from a rape survivor in reference to her acquitted rapist. She was quoted saying “…If I had five minutes in a locked room with him now…” The play attempts to shows us what it would be like if the victim had those five minutes or more and how she might serve justice to her attacker, how she might make her own law.
The play opens with Marjorie (Gibson) listening to music while folding laundry in her house robe. When a wasp sting distracts her, a man named Raul (Cutcher) comes bursting into the house. He quickly reveals the true intentions for his visit as he mentally and sexually abuses Marjorie. Before it goes any further she is able to get the upper hand, knock him out and restrain him in the fireplace.
From this point, the plot begins to unravel as Marjorie’s two roommates Terry (Ball) and Patricia (Bunce), come home from work and see what has happened. Marjorie fears that no one will believe her side of the story, that her would-be rapist will go free and she will go to jail for imprisoning him. She is afraid to be labeled crazy or a liar and that everyone would say she was asking for it.
Marjorie fears what all victims fear but in the moment she chooses to take action. The line Marjorie often uses during the play to rationalize the thought to kill Raul is “it’s either him or us” as she fears he will be set free and come back for her or her roommates.
Cutcher’s character Raul is brutal and frightening throughout the play as he tries to get in the heads of Marjorie and her roommates. He drives them to the edge of madness and causes them to turn on each other.
In director Frankle’s notes, she states “‘Extremities’ explores our animal versus human instincts.”
She goes on to say “It puts a mirror up to our natures – those of men – and women – and asks…whom do you trust? What would you do to protect your own? And can forgiveness break the circle of doubt and resentment?”
Frankle hopes the audience leaves with a different mindset on situations like this, “I would want people to leave here thinking twice about the next time they hear a woman’s story. To not be so quick to think she’s lying or she’s making it up or that she has an ulterior motive and to revisit all the facts of a case before the rush to judgment.”
This is Gibson’s seventh Black Box production and ninth show overall. She commented on how the rehearsal process went, “There was a lot of energy and we had to bring it every time. We were exhausted after every run, even before dress rehearsal. The thing that kept us going was that it was such a true story, so the energy makes itself and when you start off so powerfully the energy just builds from there.”
What she hopes audiences will get from this play is “Every person who has been through this has at least one moment where they think ‘what if I had fought back?’ Women tend to go secret about it and never talk about it and they shouldn’t be afraid of slut shaming or people not believing them. They should speak their truth.”
The department’s next production will be “The 39 Steps” on the Jenkins Hall main stage July 19 – 22.
*As of the time this article was written, the shows were scheduled to be performed April 5-8. After opening night, the remainder of the shows had to be cancelled due to one of the cast members becoming ill. There will be make up performances happening the weekend of April 12-14.