Playwright William Mastrosimone’s “Extremities”—about a would-be rape victim who captures her would-be rapist and tortures him while deliberating his fate—is the kind of no-easy-answers “issue” play that would actually benefit from a lively post-show discussion. Certainly the attitudes expressed through the audience members’ reactions to the play and its characters would provide more interesting psychological exploration into the moral minefield of “what would you do and why” questions than the play’s writing ever manages to do. Director Dori Robinson has keenly recognized this and instead focused Actors Revolution Theatre’s resources on delivering a deeply unsettling and unflinching physical production that gets under the skin and helps overcome some of the play’s dated and misogynistic elements. In the smallish Live Bait Theatre, twenty-six chairs surround a playing area no bigger than the average person’s living room allowing the spectator a ringside seat to the “violence that begets more violence.” This uncomfortable intimacy, within which the viewer is forced not only with the actors but also with twenty-five other playgoers, makes palpable the feelings of exposure and encroachment at the heart of “Extremities.” In the two central roles Dana LaRue and Jared Martzell commit fully to the script’s demanding physical and vocal requirements, while supporting players Paula Stevens and Hubbell Carothers, playing the victim’s housemates who vacillate between compassion and condemnation for everyone around them, command their own moments. (Fabrizio O. Almeida)
Live Bait Theatre, 3914 N. Clark, (773)531-9079. Thu-Sat 8:15pm/Sun 2pm. $12-$20. Through March 12.