(L to R:) Susie Whelpley (Mother) and Beth LeCocq (Arlene)
(L to R) Josh Taulbee (Guard) and Rachel Thomas-Chappell (Arlie)
(L to R:) Heather Para (Ruby) and Jay Furnari (Bennie)
(L to R) Beth LeCocq (Arlene) and Tony Cordova (Carl)
Aug 17-Sep 04, 2005
'Getting Out' a powerful story about bad luck and perseverance
- By Patricia L. Garcia, Las Cruces Sun News [Aug 17, 2005]
Readjusting to anything new can be difficult at first. In fact, it can be downright frightening.
Just think of it: dating for the first time after a screwy breakup. Trying a new job. Going back to school after years of a career. But all that can't hold a candle to readjusting to life "outside." Of prison. Especially after being in and out of detention homes and jail for most of your young adult life.
"Getting Out," a Pulitzer prize-winning play by Marsha Norman and showing at the Black Box Theatre starting Friday, is a gripping, and sometimes heartbreaking, look at Arlene, who's just been released from prison after eight years for robbery and attempted murder and her adjustment to life outside of prison.
Southern girl Arlene (LC theater scene newcomer Beth LeCocq) struggles on her first day out, trying to contain her anger and frustration when people (read: former jail guard Bennie, her mother and another ex-con named Ruby) try to help her get her life together.
She's even tracked down by her former pimp/boyfriend/sleazy jackass Carl (convincingly portrayed by slick-drawled Tony Cordova), who's determined to bring his "moneymaker" with him to New York City.
As the play progresses, we see Arlene in her younger years - when she was known as Arlie (portrayed by Rachel Thomas-Chappell) - and the many reasons for her hell-raising. From abuse and pure neglect (oh, and a mother who's a hooker), we see how easy it was for Arlie to go down the road that led her to jail guards and confined spaces.
Arlene is determined to stay straight so that she can regain custody of the son that was taken away from her and put into foster care while she was incarcerated.
As Arlene quickly realizes that life on the outside can be more difficult than the one in which she was confined, you wonder if she will break and take the easy road - giving up on the idea of ever seeing her son again and turning tricks for Carl in New York - or deal with the next challenge that has presented itself.
More than a social commentary on a system that neither rehabilitates or truly helps ex-prisoners make a new life outside of prison, "Getting Out" is a simply a moving story about a person who was dealt bad cards from the first moment she came to be.
And with LeCocq and Thomas-Chappell's excellent and rending portrayals of Arlene/Arlie, it's hard not to feel badly for her. The cast's Southern drawls never become too annoying and actually add depth to each character.
Most heartbreaking, though, is Susie Whelpley's compelling portrayal of Arlene's mother. She's harsh and judgmental, and, in the end, not very helpful or warm to Arlene, leaving her pretty much helpless and alone.
The play is based on Norman's work with troubled youth at a detention center in Kentucky, making for an intriguing and realistic story that quickly unravels and draws audiences in.
Though a bit of a heart wrencher, "Getting Out" is absolutely worth the emotional rollercoaster that LeCocq and Thomas-Chappell seduce you to ride.
No seating plan has been posted.