After seeing Back the Night I could not fall asleep for a long time. I could not stop thinking about the multitude of troubling concepts in the play, but I see that as a mark of a great show. One of the primary mind-boggling aspects of the play was the absence of a “bad guy.” On the surface, a fraternity referred to as “Theta” received most of the blame for the perpetrations of violence against women on this fictional college campus. However, as the show went on, the ambiguity of every character made it harder for the audience to easily pin their anger on someone. I felt frustrated watching the characters’ fluctuating good and bad moments, but also strangely refreshed – people in real life act in varying degrees of gray areas. This ambiguity went beyond the actions of each individual, demonstrating that truth never takes a shape as clear as we want it to. As with many stories of assault against women, in Back the Night the details of the victim’s account are torn apart and questioned. I expected this, but what shocked me is that some of the challenging came from the victim’s best friend. The true events were never revealed, which demonstrates that so few people know the whole truth of a story in reality. Sometimes we never know which voices are telling the truth. Perhaps the cause is sometimes more important than the truth.
Another thing that troubled me from the play was an argument between the two main characters, who were best friends. Cassie, the victim from the assault around which the show centered, argued that the only way to help people now was to go beyond the individual and march, bring masses of public attention to the issue. Em, her best friend who the audience later finds out had also been assaulted, argued that the true way to help people was one at a time. I have participated in and been part of both kinds of activism and help, but the idea that one could possibly be more effective than another really made me think. I am not sure if there is a “right” way to help people.