Getting Out

Getting Out

As the house lights come up after Journeymen Theater’s production of Getting Out and the acoustic magic of The Indigo Girls’ Closer To Fine spills out of the speakers at The Clark Street Playhouse, one is reminded of exactly what playwright Marsha Norman was seeking to convey. Getting Out is a reminder that life is a journey that contains pitfalls all along its winding road and we hopefully will learn from those low points and excise our demons leading us to a place that truly is closer to fine.

A fine production this is as well – Artistic Director Deborah Kirby is back at the helm directing and Journeymen Theater Ensemble seems to always benefit from her directing talents. Journeymen is a company that has a mission to address community and societal issues with their art and this show certainly meets that goal with themes of incest, abuse, the correctional system and drug abuse. Planned special talk-backs with NOVA Juvenile Detention Center and a book drive for the young people of the program only add to its importance.

Written in 1977 by Marsha Norman, Getting Out tells the story of a woman’s journey through horrific sexual abuse by her father and her subsequent free fall through the prison system when she takes the life of another.

Two actresses are used in Getting Out to portray the lead character. Arlie (Tiffany Filmore) is in prison, a victim of a tortured past. Arlene (Alia Faith Williams) is trying to make it in the community after release. They both appear on stage at the same time, many times in the same scene. Arlene, still early in her rehabilitation, paroled on early release after eight long years for murder, deals with the difficult memory of her past crimes until she finds emotional release from her former self (Arlie) who attempted suicide to rid herself of the demons that haunted her.

A wonderful cast of local talent includes company Executive Director Tiffany Filmore, Jason McCool, Charlotte Akin and Joe Palka (husband of Fox 5′s Sue Palka). Arlie (Tiffany Filmore) is anger personified, a tortured soul and victim of abuse. Filmore lays claim to the role from the opening moments, never relinquishing it from her grip. Arlene (Alia Faith Williams) is a beaten down shell of a woman who longs to see better days – Williams’ portrayal is steady and a convincing picture of someone numbed by her past but on a road to recovery. Jason McCool as Carl is perfectly sleazy as a petty criminal from Arlie’s criminal past. Bennie (Victor Steele) takes Arlene under his wing after her release but we are never really sure if his motives are not just based on friendship – his performance balances the nice guy with someone ready to take advantage of her at any moment. Ruby (Lolita-Marie Clayton), Arlene’s new upstairs neighbor, is welcoming and an open door for her to step into – a part Clayton seems perfect for.

The aforementioned Closer To Fine nailed the sound design for me and the set design was a functional if eerie combination of torn chain link fence and small dingy apartment. Lighting was stark and combined with the set design exemplified the vicissitude that is the life of an ex-con.

Journeymen starts their season with a very well acted production from one of our most well respected playwrights. It is evident that Deborah Kirby has a passion for bringing us into this sad but uplifting tale in order to see how we as humans learn from our hardships to become stronger individuals. This is not a play that has a cheery, everyone wins ending but Arlene is on her way to recovery and a place that is truly “closer to fine”.

I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains
I looked to the children, I drank from the fountain
There’s more than one answer to these questions
pointing me in crooked line
The less I seek my source for some definitive
The closer I am to fine.

We go to the bible, we go through the workout
We read up on revival and we stand up for the lookout
There’s more than one answer to these questions
pointing me in a crooked line
The less I seek my source for some definitive
The closer I am to fine
The closer I am to fine
The closer I am to fine Closer To Fine – Indigo Girls

Comments

  1. Another very good show. I always enjoy how Journeymen productions leave you thinking about the human condition. I’ve seen a number of Journeymen productions and I find that they always hit it home.

  2. Paula Y. Bickham says:

    Made it to the last show, and boy was I glad I got to see this piece! This was the first time I’d seen a Journeymen production. I hadn’t even considered seeing “Getting Out” until someone suggested I do so. The whole cast was awesome.

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