When "Extremities" opened at Trustus Theatre 25 years ago, it sent a message.
"We wanted to come in and say that Trustus is not going to be your typical local theater," said Jim Thigpen, the play's director and Trustus' co-founder. "We hit the ground running with this one."
"Extremities" will open for a second time at Trustus on Friday. William Mastrosimone's play is considered controversial. Relevant is a better way to characterize the production. And two decades later, the premise remains shocking.
The home of a young woman, Marjorie, is invaded by a would-be rapist, Raul. But Marjorie, who is played by the captivating Monica Wyche, defends herself and detains Raul.
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Her roommates come home to find Raul, played by Christopher Cockrell, tied up in the fireplace with cords, belts and other items. Questions immediately arise. Who is the victim? Who is the assailant? Is Marjorie now a kidnapper?
"She has the power," Thigpen said of Marjorie. "She has to decided how to deal with the power. All of a sudden, it's in the hands of the victim."
But what about the torture she inflicts?
"She beats the crap out of him," Thigpen said. "Her roommates come home, and she's perfectly OK. If they call the cops, what do they see?"
"Extremities," a daring production, has an interesting history at Trustus. It was the first play stay staged at the theater's old walk-up space on Assembly Street. On opening night, a fire threat was called in, and the audience had to be evacuated.
"I remember the police coming up opening night and chasing people out of the theater," Thigpen said. "Everybody stayed. It was really amazing. It was really something."
Will audiences come to see the production 25 years later? Comedies and musicals are big-ticket sellers in town, especially in days of perpetual grim economic news. "Extremities," though, is two hours of drama, a thought-provoking play.
"Let's remind people that a good drama can be good entertainment," Thigpen said. "Let's see if this works out - or I go out of business. For people who like theater, this is a powerful evening.
"We're still capable of knocking some socks off."
Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 3 p.m. Sunday.
The play runs through Nov. 14. Trustus is at 520 Lady St. $15 to $22.50; (803) 254-9732
The cast of "Tap Dogs" is similar to a band. But this band is, in their terms, up on the boards and not on the stage.
And the music is created with their feet.
"Tap Dogs," a Broadway in Columbia production that will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, is a concert and play rolled into one. The story is partly told through the characters' feet. Anybody can understand and feel rhythmic discussion.
"Rhythm is a language of its own," said Nathan Sheens, one of the six main characters. "It's infinite. It's mathematical. There's no limitations."
Dein Perry, an Australian choreographer, created "Tap Dogs" in the mid-1990s. Perry, a former industrial machinist, created the show around themes from his work experiences.
Sheens is an original cast member. This is his third stint touring with the show. (This isn't the first time he's toured through Columbia; "Tap Dogs" was at the Koger Center in 1999.)
"I'm one of the original guys. I play the role of the rat," Sheens said of his character, one who always get pulled back into line.
Sheens said "Tap Dogs" has continued to resonate because of the relationships the dancers have on the boards and the story's message of hard work and perseverance.
"It was ahead of its time when it came out," he said. "It's blue collar."
So how does Sheens keep his movements - the music - fresh for the audience?
"Add some different rhythms and combinations to your solos," he said. "Doing rhythms and making music with my feet is what I always wanted to do."
The Koger Center is at 1051 Greene St. $36 to $49; (803) 251-2222
OTHER ARTS EVENTS
The Palmetto Opera presents "La Boheme Meets the Three Baritones" at Dreher High School at 7:30 p.m. Friday. "La Boheme" is a four-act opera based on an Italian libretto. The high school is at 3319 Millwood Ave. $10 and $30; (803) 776-0526
The Power Company will present the contemporary dance production "A Circus of Sorts" at CMFA ArtSpace at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
The performance will also feature a collaboration with Natalie Brown of Delirium Tribal Belly Dance Company.
The CMFA ArtSpace is at 914 Pulaski St. $18 for one ticket, $30 for two; (803) 786-3825
Read more about the show in Weekend on Friday.
The USC Symphony Orchestra will perform at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Koger Center. Joining the orchestra during the show will be The Shiraz Trio to perform "The Glory and the Grandeur," a concerto for percussion and orchestra. The Koger Center is at 1051 Greene St. $8 to $25; (803) 251-2222
The South Carolina Shakespeare Company will open its theatrical season with "Romeo and Juliet." The play will be staged in the Finlay Park amphitheater Thursday through Saturday and Oct. 28-31. Finlay Park is at 930 Laurel St. Showtime is 8 p.m. $6 to $10; (803) 787-2273
- Otis R. Taylor Jr.