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Theatre review: Extremities


Just how far would we go if we had the chance; if we were pushed far enough that the reason and responsibility put on us by our social world were swept away, just for a couple of hours? If we got mad enough.

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Adelaide’s Mystique Productions presents this revival of Extremities, a controversial Broadway play written in the early 1980s by William Mastrosimone and directed here by Tony Knight.

Marjorie is assaulted in her own home; it is attempted rape. The intruder Raul, played by Adam Tuominen, raises the tension beautifully as walks into the house, then talks and bullies his way past her orders to leave. He is just creepy enough to frighten us, and his violence splashes out.

But when Marjorie, in a taut portrayal by Rachael Wegener, blinds him with insect spray and ties him up, the tables are turned. She wants to bash him and bury him.

Complications ensue when her housemates arrive home, especially when Raul sets characters against each other; he is a stalker and he’s been reading their mail.

There is vivid discussion of moral themes: can we trust the law, how much should we take into our own hands and, ultimately, what are the responsibilities of women on the issue of date rape? This latter theme was a notorious issue of the 1980s and is still alive today.

A bit is made in the blurb for this play about themes from Ancient Greek tragedy, especially of Euripides. The Greeks believed that if you never tapped into the Dionysiac side of your psychology, if you denied it as did Pentheus in Euripides’ tragedy The Bacchae, then that is what would drive you mad. In this play, Marjorie goes there, into the dark place from which the revenge of Dionysus springs.

But of course, Dionysus was a god, and Marjorie is a woman, and “before they believe a woman in a court of law she has to be dead on arrival”, and there is no evidence of any attack. The discussions with her housemates swing between the case of revenge and what is essentially conflict resolution. But then, just what do you do with a psychopath?

The cast members handle the accents consistently well through the play. Nikki Elli Souertijis and Stefanie Rossi make strong contributions as the housemates with different views and agendas.

This is a very interesting and well-played effort by Mystique Productions.

Extremities is being presented by Mystique Productions and Tony Knight Acting at the Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, until November 26.

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