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THEATER REVIEWS: 'LE DINDON' AND 'EXTREMETIES' : Sweet and Bitter Revenge : In 'Extremities,' Ventura College offers a powerful and intense drama about the legal and personal implications of a rape.

October 08, 1992|TODD EVERETT | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Some prominent jurists hold they'd rather defend an accused rapist in front of a jury of women than men, explaining that women are harder on each other than they would be on the accused.

That may or may not have been in the mind of William Mastrosimone, who says that he wrote "Extremities" as conjecture, wondering what would happen if a rape victim were to take retribution on her attacker.

It's a powerful, intense drama exploring a relatively uncharted area.

And Ventura College's current production, directed by Judy Garey, is as commanding a piece of theater as has been seen in Ventura County in quite a while.

Julianne VanKomen plays Marjorie, one of three women who share an isolated New Jersey farmhouse. A fellow named Raul walks in one day, under the pretense of looking for someone. When Marjorie insists that he leave, Raul attacks her. There's a fierce fight, and she eventually subdues him.

That all takes place within the first few minutes of "Extremities." The rest of the play is devoted to how she (knowing that the legal system would most likely let him go) extracts her revenge, and how her two roommates react to the situation.

Raul, played here by Fernando Portugal, is clearly devoid of any redeeming qualities. So it is a bit disconcerting that Marjorie's roommates are shocked when they return to find Raul under her control.

He counters Marjorie's version of the incident, explaining that he simply asked to make a phone call and she attacked him.

Amazingly, this casts some doubt in their minds and the roommates entreat her to either take him to court or let him go altogether.

Like strong-willed Marjorie, the roommates are stereotypes: Terry (Jill Waggoner) is a whiner with a Significant Secret of her own, and Patricia (Doreen Dekkers) is the kind of liberal that some like to describe as a "bleeding heart." Both actresses are fine, but the play belongs to Marjorie and Raul.

VanKomen and Portugal are terrific; quite believable in the more rounded-out of the show's characters. While Raul is hateful, he also has the ability to lay on a coat or two of smarmy charm, and it's easy to imagine him getting what he wants from gullible types.

And Marjorie's only really dumb move--discussing matters with her roommates in front of Raul--is playwright Mastrosimone's doing. Surely, the minute that any of the three found Raul using their opinions as a wedge between them, the conversation would have been moved outside his earshot.

Willy Eck can be depended on for fine, evocative sets, and doesn't fail here, though the lights may be a bit too bright for maximum effect. Abra Flores' makeup work is likewise excellent.

Extremely intense and physical at times (fight choreography is credited to Fred Fate), the play is clearly not intended for youngsters, and probably isn't the most romantic choice for a first date.

Discussion periods are promised after some, but not all, performances.

* WHERE AND WHEN

"Extremities" continues weekends through Oct. 18 at the Ventura College Circus Theater on Loma Vista Road (just west of Day Road) in Ventura. Performances are at 8 p.m. on Thursdays through Saturdays, Oct. 8-10 and 15-17 and at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 18 only. Tickets to the Friday and Saturday evening performances are $7, or $5 for students, seniors and groups of 10 or more. Admission Thursday nights and to the Oct. 18 matinee is $5. Call 654-6459 for further information.

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