The Seeing Theatre’s current production of Getting Out, in repertory with Ionesco’s Rhinoceros in a pairing meant to explore issues of nonconformity, is an intelligent if uneven play in a difficult space, with performances that are so deceptively normal and well absorbed that it’s easy to forget one is watching actors plying their craft onstage.
The evening mostly belongs to the women, however, an unfortunate if ultimately rewarding imbalance in this case, since it’s rare to see a strong cast of female actors taking on issues of identity and survival so convincingly.
Erin Cronican, who directed, also plays Arlene, whose troubled experiences and readjustment to post-prison life move the action, with a controlled pathos that’s never sentimental. A final scene with the fine Jane Kahler touches the heart unexpectedly, a moment notable for its raw, vulnerable honesty and truth. Carla Brandberg’s Mother is unnervingly real and compelling, while Candice Oden as Arlie, Arlene’s delinquent younger self, attacks her role with a strident energy that hopefully will mellow with time and experience.
Of the men, only Steve Carrieri’s moments as the greasy and truly evil Carl stand out, and mention must be made of the truly unconvincing rape which is surprising for its weakness in this otherwise well-staged drama.
Still, thanks are due to Erin Cronican and The Seeing Theatre for taking on such a challenging work and raising awareness about a rarely discussed and long-neglected topic which affects women most of all — whether trapped in the penal system themselves, or trying to deal with and nurture those loved ones who are or have been.
— René Grayre, July 2016
© René Grayre All rights reserved