[ON STAGE]The corners of the mind

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[ON STAGE]The corners of the mind

The local adaptation of "Getting Out" has the kind of bluntly disturbing psychology you don't often see in Korean productions. Written in 1977, "Getting Out" was the first work created by Marsha Norman, who went on to collect a Pulitzer Prize for her 1983 work "'night, Mother."

"Getting Out" is based on Ms. Norman's experiences of working with troubled teens at Kentucky Central State Hospital. The play is set on the first day that the lead character, Arlene, emerges from prison after serving an eight-year sentence for robbery, kidnapping and manslaughter.

The play opens with Arlene scrubbing the old, grungy floor of her taxi-driver mother's apartment. She plans to bring back from an orphanage the baby boy, Joy, she gave birth to while in prison. All goes awry, though, when her ex-boyfriend, whom she met in her teens while in a juvenile detention facility, breaks into her apartment and demands that she go to New York to make big cash as a prostitute.

What makes "Getting Out" so hard-hitting is that throughout the day Arlene flashes back to memories from prison, which are simultaneously played out on a set not dissimilar to her squalid apartment on the outside. One actor plays the current Arlene and another the past. Life in the lousy apartment constantly overlaps with the nightmarish incidents she suffered at the prison, as well as a memory of being raped by her father.

Similarly, her present state of mind - emotions ranging from abject fear to slight pleasure - is juxtaposed with both her ugly and sweet memories. For example, young Arlene rides on a swing as a child while the present-day Arlene has a chat with her neighbor Ruby, who was her best friend. The effect has both powerful and subtle elements and some sparkling visual cues.

But perhaps the most unusual thing about the play is its marketing strategy. Catchphrased as "The Relay 369," Theater You, run by the famous television and stage actor You In-chon, has packaged three plays for one price.

The two other plays, "The City of Survival" and "Equus," and "Getting Out" start at 3 p.m., 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., with the order depending on the day. According to Son Eun-young of the promotional staff, there are many people who sit through all three shows.

For more information, call 02-3444-0651.

by Park Soo-mee

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