Paul Downs Colaizzo’s Really Really opened at the MiST Theatre this past Thursday. The play, which is directed by Michael Bradley, focuses on issues of consent, violence, and sexual assault on college campuses.
The story traces the lives of two main characters: Leigh (Lucy Morgan), and Davis (Kyle McDonald) through a stomach-churning story of rape, intoxication, and deception.
We enter the story during the aftermath of Davis’ tunnel of love party—a party without cameras. After the party, Davis’ friends Johnson (Soykan Karayol) and Cooper (Jake Settle) itched to know what went down that night. Davis leaves them with a simple and unsatisfying answer: he doesn’t know.
Meanwhile, Leigh remembers it in crisp detail. In a heated argument with her boyfriend and father of her child Jimmy (Eric Gordon) over the events of that night, Leigh recounts the gruesome story of what really happened behind the locked door of Davis’ bedroom.
The rumour mill churns with the story of Davis’ rape accusation and divides the characters based on their belief of what happened.
Leigh’s best friend Grace (Khira Wieting) gives a speech at a conference entitled the Future Leaders of America, wherein she raises ideas about “Generation Me.” This is a generation that asks, “How do I make this work for me?” The notion that Generation Me claims invincibility by twisting the truth casts a shadow over the motives of the characters to believe what suits their interests.
The whole story seems black and white until Leigh’s sister Hayley (Rachel Lebovic) comes to visit with a striking nonchalance. Hayley waltzes in wanting to talk about movies and boys. Hayley describes her sister’s circumstance as a “convenient tragedy,” alluding to a secret about Leigh’s pregnancy.
Small inconsistencies that are planted throughout the story muddies the truth. Although it becomes clear that Davis has a streak of violence and is fully capable of committing the crime he’s accused of, we can never know for sure if the accusation is true or fabricated for personal gain.
Really Really gripped me from the get-go and kept me captivated the entire time.
The show dealt with heavy topics that have been on the forefront of everyone’s minds. In our world today, there is a flood of fearless women, in all professions, coming forward to the media about their experiences with sexual assault. The show confronts the issue of sexual abuse from all angles: the refusal to believe it, intoxication, consent, the advantages and disadvantages of holding privilege, the guilt associated with being a bystander, and more.
The show forces the audience to step into the heads of each character and see the situation from a fresh perspective.
Despite the serious content, the play captured the perfect balance between drama and comedy. Settle and Wieting had me in stitches as Cooper and Grace. Cooper being a hyper-sexual, crude, frat-boy type, and Grace, a high-strung closeted Christian. Both actors added a great deal of humour to the piece, while maintaining complex multi-faceted characters.
The fourth-year theatre and drama studies students performed excellently. Not once was I pulled out of the psychic space. Even though the roles they played were those of college students, I could not imagine them any other way. Rachel was Hayley, Soykan was Johnson, and Eric was Jimmy. The actors became their characters.
I commend Peter Urbanek for his set and lighting design. The beautiful set rang true for the sons and daughters of wealthy parents. I especially enjoyed the MiST with blue and red lighting for the Future Leaders of America Conference. Even though the set was stagnant, the audience was transported into a completely new venue.
I would also like to acknowledge Michelle Vanderheyden for her costume design. The outfits of the characters revealed elements of their personalities and suited them well.
Wellesley Lee, the sound operator, did a great job at intensifying and muting sounds which added realism to the piece.
Really Really was phenomenal from performances by the actors to all the backstage hands contributing to making the show a success. The play was emotional, light-hearted, and incredibly funny. I highly recommend it.
Theatre Erindale’s Really Really runs until March 11 at the MiST Theatre.