What really happened in Really Really? It is hard to tell. Really Really, written by Paul Downs Colaizzo, is not a play that tells a story; it is an artistic conversation starter. The conversation focuses on the important and timely subject of sexual assault and rape culture; however, this is not the focus of the play. Under the direction of Craig A. Ellingson, Minnesota State University Moorhead’s production of Really Really unflinchingly reflects the selfish nature of humanity and the choices we make without any consideration of repercussions to others. It asks us if the cost of our achievements is worthwhile. In the case of the characters in Really Really, it was all for not.
The relationship between the characters is unclear and cluttered by unnecessary plot points. The intention to present disturbing yet familiar individuals falls flat and instead characters can be summarized with a handful of adjectives. This creates unmotivated stock characters that revolve around one facet of their personality. Without complexity, the audience misses how fine of a line it is between victim and predator, and how easily the two can be mistaken for each other.
The ambiguity of the one person’s word against another’s allows the audience to decide their own opinion of the truth, yet the unfolding events are contradicting and, at times, unrealistic which makes it difficult to determine just what happened. Colaizzo’s script is gender slanted; his female characters are unconvincing and underdeveloped while his male characters are boorish. This is counterproductive for a script that deals with such serious subject matter. Whatever statement the playwright is attempting to make about sexual assault is not translated, although it is an excellent example of how complicated and delicate these cases can be.
For all its shortcoming, Really Really will inspire social commentary because of the content. Many people will have strong (and varying) reactions to the show. It is unlikely that Really Really will play on any community or regional theatre stages. It lacks the tactfulness that is required when presenting controversial content. However, college campuses can perform this show to help raise awareness and hold constructive panels addressing sexual assault and rape culture, and in that sense, Really Really achieves its goal.
Performance: Tuesday January 19th at 7:30 pm on the Normandle Community College mainstage.
Director: Craig A. Ellingson
Featuring: Kali Jo Klimek, Erika Rosenkranz, Emily Carlson, Chris Knutson, Collin Engler, Jack Bonko, and Chris Pinter.
Assistant Director: Samantha Lorenz
Stage Managers: Michelle Soto, Allie Beil, and Wyatt Sander.
Design Team: Laura Berger, Katie Van Haren, Ricky Greenwell, James Stenger, Carina Du Marce, Brodigan Morton, Annie Peck, Ben Stodder, Nate Pace, and Caleb Reich.