Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

July 22, 2013


Berkshire Theatre Group, Stockbridge, MA
through July 27, 2013
by Shera Cohen

“Extremities” personifies the violence of rape in three different time periods: before, during, and after. The emphasis in this powerful and oftentimes uncomfortable drama is, of course, on the victim as well as her assailant. Although the play was written 30 years ago, it is a sad reality that the story is quite relevant today. A large black sign covering half of a wall space in the theatre’s lobby lists statistics from 1982 and the present; i.e. number of rapes, number of reports, percentages of convictions, percentages of depression.

Yet, “Extremities” is not data collection or book learning. There’s the woman, and then there’s the stranger who enters her home. This is not your typical rape story (if there is such a thing as typical, and there shouldn’t be), as the attacker eventually becomes the attacked. The characters and the audience face the question of how to define justice. Does an eye for an eye apply here? There’s another question, perhaps even more important, of what does violence and justice mean to both people in a terrible situation?

The casting of Molly Camp (Marjorie) and James McMenam (Raul) is masterful. Camp transforms from a somewhat wimpy and board young woman to a bug-eyed, quivering, determined soldier of circumstance. McMenam morphs from a physically aggressive man to a caged animal-like creature. Director Karen Allen molds the two, at first giving one character an edge up, then the other, and soon the audience wonders just who is in control. Marjorie’s housemates, portrayed by Kelly McCreary and Miriam Silverman, arrive on the scene. Both actresses define their individual personalities quickly.

Kudos goes to the backstage crew on music, lighting, sound, and set design. This is the most detailed story-telling staging at the Unicorn Theatre to date.

A coupe for this reviewer was the opportunity to attend the talk-back. All of actors participated, as well as the director. Karen Allen (of “Indiana Jones” fame, and wasn’t it serendipitous that I had just caught the last half of the movie the day before on TBS?)…anyway, was quite shy, humble, and solicitous of her actors. Yet, it was obvious that she knew each character inside and out, and so did the audience.