‘Really Really’ delivers powerful message

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The cast and crew of “Really Really” knew what they were about. With a shared goal and message in mind, all involved in the play for the Feb. 23 premiere brought their best for a superb opening night.

“Really Really” stars Rebecca Boes as Leigh, the female lead who gets drunk at a college party and later accuses Davis, played by Clay Singer, of raping her. The rest of the play involves all the characters involved dealing with the aftermath of this accusation.

Given the dark plot of the play, it is not surprising that a dark theme accompanies it. Sexual assault is not just a problem for Generation Me, it is a recurring issue that has affected generation after generation.
Director David Rzeszutek kept this message in mind for the SVSU production of the play.

“I want the audience to go out, get coffee and talk about what they saw,” Rzeszutek said. “It’s a pretty aggressive subject, so we partnered off with SVSU’s counseling and Title IX. They’re going to be available in the lobby in case anyone is so moved that they need to talk to someone.”

The dark nature of the play gave the show unique problems, especially in regards to character portrayal.
“On paper, the characters aren’t that likable,” Rzeszutek said. “They’re really self-centered. I thought it would be interesting for the students to make them likable.”

Brianne Dolney, a junior double-majoring in theatre and political science who plays Grace, was up for the challenge.

“It’s not often that you get to act in such a modern piece,” Dolney said. “The script, setting, hair, makeup, and costumes are all so current that we can just dive right in and feel at home.”

Clayton Singer, a sophomore double-majoring in theatre and psychology, also found “Really Really” to be a rewarding and unique experience. Despite being worried about how the audience would perceive the rape, the director and his fellow actors helped put his concerns at ease. He portrays Davis in the play.

“Working with my director, Dave Rzeszutek, and my scene partner, Rebecca Boes, was a fantastic experience,” Singer said. “We worked together to create a scene that will hopefully shock the audience but also ensured safety for me and Rebecca.”

Despite being able to relate more to modern plays than classics, the characters from the play were still difficult for the actors to portray.

“There’s a really challenging scene for me where I have to get to a place to say things I couldn’t imagine saying,” Dolney said. “It took a lot of character work to find Grace’s motives and intent and to be able to feel the hurt she feels and get to the level that the playwright has required of her.”

Singer, too, found the complex characters difficult to gauge.

“Overall, the hardest part of presenting my character was creating a two-sided individual with a sort of hidden rage or dark side, if you will,” Singer said. “It was challenging to put myself in the mindset of someone who can’t control his own anger.”

Despite the challenges of acting in a play that concerns such dark themes, both Singer and Dolney believe the play has an important message for the audience.

“I hope it will create conversations between my fellow students and make them understand the responsibility they have as adults to ensure partying is done safely and with caution,” Singer said. “I hope this play illustrates the importance of looking out for our friends and treating each other’s bodies with respect.”

Dolney echoed Singer’s message.

“Basically, this show is a very intimate inside look at the things we sometimes feel like we have to do in order to make our way in the world,” Dolney said. “But it also reveals the horror and terror of an act found far too often across college campuses today.”

No matter if you are in college or not, “Really Really” has an important message that has been and, unfortunately, will continue to be an issue for generations.

“It’s not just the millennials that have lived these lives,” Rzeszutek said. “It’s cyclical.”