Matthew Hall and Madison Gomez in “Extremities” at Surfside Playhouse. Photo by Bryan Bergeron
By MICHAEL THOMPSON
With its provocative production of “Extremities,” Surfside Playhouse revives one of its best productions from years past. And in a word…”WOW.”
Written by William Mastrosimone, “Extremities” is a disturbing dramatic look at rape and revenge. From the opening moments of the play,beginning with a graphic attempted rape, the action and the underlying emotions never let up,leaving the audience to question its own reliance upon the justice system, its own sense of bloodlust and ultimately, its own sense of humanity.
The story is about a young woman, Marjorie, who is attacked in her home by a would-be rapist, Raoul. She manages to turn the tables on him, tying him up in the fireplace. Her roommates come home to discover him in the fireplace bound with belts, chains and other household items. Terry and Patricia, the roommates, express different points of views about rape in society. Terry, a rape victim herself as a teenager, believes that Raoul will not be convicted since there is no proof of an actual assault. Patricia believes in the justice system and wants to call the police. The three friends are also turned on each other at various points in the play, due to Raoul’s knowledge of each of them through his stalking of the women.
As Marjorie, Madison Gomez (a newcomer to the Surfside stage) delivers in the difficult role of victim/abuser in a way that shows you the confused and angry road she is traveling. As Terry, the mousey former rape victim, Sarah Roberts conveys in a truthful manner the fear and self blaming of past traumas. Becky Behl-Hill as Patricia, delivers a spot-on portrayal of the doubting, level headed social worker whose world comes tumbling down when she learns the real truth. In his best role to date, Matthew Hall shows nuance as the victimizer/victim. From monster to broken coward, he makes you question where your sympathies lie.
Kudos to the production crew as well for a wonderful set so that the actors can take you into their world. The only complaint would be the sound level of the flying insect that seemed like a low flying plane buzzing the audience.
“Extremities” is as relevant today as when it was first presented Off Broadway in 1982. Especially in this age of victim shaming and light sentences given to rapists, as in the case of Stanford swimmer Brock Turner.
The problem I have with Mastrosimone’s play is his purported examination of the criminal justice system’s treatment of rape victims, as it becomes a canard to delve into a vengeful mind; he fails to to provide any real resolution to the threads he pulls at throughout the play. Nevertheless, as presented by Surfside Playhouse and under the excellent and insightful direction of artistic director Bryan Bergeron, this melodrama makes the audience question if revenge is really worth it.
This is a production that should be seen. It deserves full houses. I promise you that you won’t be disappointed. Congratulations to Surfside for taking a risk and crafting an excellent show.Michael Thompson is a well known actor and director in Brevard County. He runs The Actors Asylum, which opens “All Girl Dracula” October 21-30 at Derek Gores Gallery. The show is written by Bob Fisher and directed by Mr. Thompson. BREVARD CULTURE requested Mr. Thompson to write this commentary.
SIDE O’ GRITS: “Extremities” runs through Sept. 25 at Surfside Playhouse, 301 Ramp Rd., Cocoa Beach (by 5th Street, South). It performs 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $25 general and $22 adults and military. Call 321-783-3127, visit SurfsidePlayers.com or click onto their ad.