A taut film that sheds light on the complicated issue of sexual assault: “Extremities” Performed by Fitchburg State Students

The Wallace Theater for the Performing Arts at the McKay Complex hosts the controversial and powerful play “Extremities,” directed by Mary Vreeland, examining the concepts of violence, justice, and vengeance.

The whole action of William Mastrosimone’s play, which is about a young woman named Marjorie who has been attacked by a stranger, occurs within her home. In her own house, Marjorie manages to repel the man who attacked her and holds him hostage, setting off a tense and unsettling hostage situation.

Allison Thompson, associate director of “Extremities” talks about why such a disturbing play was chosen to be produced at Fitchburg State University. “Mary and I really wanted an impassioned female story, something really feminine-rage driven. Especially now, in the midst of the continuous “Me Too” movement, it’s a really important story to tell with all these women coming forward with their traumas.”

Important concerns regarding the nature of violence and its potential psychological impacts on both victims and offenders are raised in the play. It also casts doubt on the idea of justice and if seeking punishment can ever actually result in resolution or healing.

The play’s performances are excellent, especially those of the lead performers who bear the brunt of the production’s intense emotional content. A cramped and anxious mood is successfully created by the tight directing and the set design.

A would-be rapist named Raul, played by Christopher Brennan, attacks a young woman named Marjorie, played by Lyanny Pinales, in her house.

Lyanny Pinales talks about her experience on stage by sharing “I tried to think of any time in my life when I was in danger and put my emotions of what I felt during that time into my acting. I wanted to show women out there that this is still happening and unfortunately is an active situation that cannot be controlled. It’s so tough because what are we supposed to do in these situations other than try to fight back.”

Marjorie was able to turn the tables on him by tying him up in the fireplace. When her roommates Patricia and Terry, played by Julia DuFresne and Kennedy Gough, get home, they find the attacker tied with ropes, belts, and other objects from about the house.

“Raul was a very tough character to get into. I had to force myself into a very dark headspace, which is a challenge that many actors face. It was very hard to find things that could help me relate to Raul in any way, however it was my job to put myself in his place and become him,” states Christopher Brennan.

Terry, who herself was raped as a young girl, is of the opinion that Raul will not be found guilty since there is no evidence that a rape truly took place.

Kennedy Gough explains “A lot of Terry’s personality I can feel in myself. She is very jumpy and jittery and she stays in the back and lets everyone else do their thing. But there was also a lot that I couldn’t relate to like her being raped. It was revealed later on, however I wanted to show that she persevered although she had more of a panicky sense to it.”

Patricia insists on calling the police because she believes in the justice system.

“When it comes to Patricia, I took the special note that out of all the characters she wasn’t somebody who was a victim or directly a perpetrator of the violence. When I went through examining how she enwraps in the scenes I really focused in on a more clinical stance because she’s a social worker and is trained to work with these types of situations and watching how when she’s actually faced with these situations that clinical side breaks down through the course of the play,” states Julia DuFresne, “It taught me that no matter how you think you will react, when it actually happens to you or someone you love everything you know disappears.”

The drama “Extremities” examines the most heinous elements of human conduct in a way that is both compelling and thought-provoking. For those who enjoy challenging and uncomfortable theater, it is a must-see, but due to its potentially delicate subject matter, it should be viewed with caution.