Los Angeles Theater Review: THE INTERFERENCE (Rogue Machine at the Hollywood Fringe Festival)

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by Dale Reynolds on June 14, 2017

in Theater-Los Angeles


What an extraordinary piece of theater was this Hollywood Fringe entry from Pepperdine University in Malibu. The Interference confronts the dilemma of how rape or other abuse victims can find justice in a corrupt world. Lynda Radley wrote this 75-minute piece with Pepperdine’s drama department in mind.

The title refers to American football rules allowing players to block opponents who try to tackle their teammate. Karen (a stunningly solid Alexandria Garrett) is a college student at a football-rich university who, one drunken-party night, is taken advantage of by a star quarterback player (a character unseen by us). What were the circumstances of the alleged rape? How culpable is the young woman? How can the school, its student body, Internet Trolls, and outside media allow themselves to believe her when so much — financial suits, football status — is riding on the outcome? Not well, is the answer.

Director Cathy Thomas-Grant, a Professor of Theater at Pepperdine, saw the play written for her students, presented it on-campus, and took it — quite successfully — to the well-established Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, where it earned the Scotland Fringe First Award in New Writing and the Broadway Baby Bobby award for Exceptional Work on the Fringe.

Radley’s play, performed in a tight ensemble of thirteen actors, all under 25, examines how footballer fame can distort the legal and moral ethics when sex is involved. Karen was drunk, passed out in a dorm room of this admired athlete and sex commenced. Was it consensual, with her being drunk, or did he force the issue?

That there are no definite answers is not the issue here — but it’s society’s willingness to make the young woman the villain (the play references the horrible mischaracterization of a southern university’s gang rape in 2014 that went unchecked in a published article in Rolling Stone magazine) when it becomes “he said, she said,” asking unfair questions of the victim, laying the fault of it on her behavior (drunk, no screams, no doctor’s visits just after) and certainly not on the player’s responsibility to his victim. It’s a fixed show that was only given three performances at the Rogue Machine’s Met Theatre in early June. Pity, that; it deserves a longer life. But the play is being published this fall.

photos by Calvin Alagot

The Interference
Rogue Machine in association with Pepperdine Scotland
part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival
ended on June 8, 2017
for more info, visit Hollywood Fringe or Pepperdine Drama

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