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Revealing script and exquisite acting in Getting Out

Written by Marsha Norman.
Directed by Julia Soyer.
Student Center, Room 407.
April 10-12, 8:30 p.m.

By William Chuang
Arts Staff

I found Getting Out enthralling, both in script and in execution. Nearly every line in the play is revealing of character, and good acting brings this out strikingly. The play is innovative in its use of a single stage to represent both an apartment and a prison cell, with action proceeding in two places at once at times. However, this is no barrier to understanding the play or the characters, whose backgrounds are exquisitely expressed and crafted by the actors. It is a wonderful play, and everyone should go see it -- it is deeply moving, and FREE to boot.

Getting Out is about a young woman named Arlene (Charlene Suwanabhand '93); when the play opens, she is just being released from an eight-year prison term for murder. Arlene's memory of herself, called up by her fears and needs, is represented by Arlie (Joanna Kulik '92). Arlene's various visual cues, as simple as viewing the dirty floor of her old apartment, call up memories which are re-enacted by Arlie as the action develops.

As the play progresses, Arlene's character begins to unfold, showing how suspicious, tensely guarded, and withdrawn she is. Various events after her release, including confrontations with the prison guard (Paulo Pereira '93) who accompanies her home, her former pimp (Tony Le '93), her mother (Dawn Nolt '92), and her upstairs neighbor Ruby (Sameera Iyengar '93), all bring about memories which are played out simultaneously by Arlie. In this manner, we begin to see beyond the violence that the young Arlie uses to mask troubles and abuse at home, and learn the sordid events leading up to her prison sentence.

We also see how Arlene has changed, striving to eke out a new existence for herself, even to the point of calling herself "Arlene" and not "Arlie" now that she has left prison. Arlene is determined to start again, hoping to regain a son who never knew her and who now lives in a foster home and perhaps be happy in a new, straight life. But there are so many obstacles from her past which come to haunt her and lead her astray. It is these obstacles which create the amazing interplay of emotions between Arlie and Arlene and provide the audience with a richly detailed background of her life.

The night I went to see Getting Out was a pre-dress rehearsal. To see such a rich performance in such an early stage of the performance process can lead one to only one conclusion: that this weekend's performances are guaranteed to shine with talent and heartfelt emotions and to provide a satisfying evening of entertainment for all theater-goers clever enough to rush out to see Getting Out. It's quality theater and it's FREE -- what more could you ask for?