'Haze' puts spotlight on rape victims 

In her thought-provoking solo show “The Haze,” Heather Marlowe asks the challenging question, “Why it is hard to care about someone who’s been raped?”

She’s doing her best to change that, in an hourlong presentation in which she describes – both horrifyingly and matter-of-factly – how being drugged and raped during San Francisco’s Bay to Breakers has changed her life forever.

Powerful and saddening – with a few glints of humor – the piece, directed by Jean-Michele Gregory (known for working with storyteller Mike Daisey) and onstage at ACT’s black-box Costume Shop, is a graphic public service annoucement. Marlowe offers statistics about how authorities routinely ignore rape victims. She points to the fact that 10,000 rape-kits (which include physical evidence taken from women who have been raped) remain unprocessed in the Bay Area; there are more than 700 in San Francisco alone.

Her story is harrowing, even before the Bay to Breakers’ brutality, which happened when she was 28. She admittedly has daddy issues, she says, beginning with abuse from her father when she and her sisters were young girls, which put her into “a haze” – her way of checking out. Her past also includes participating in Ecstatic Dance, having violent encounters with strangers and dating a huge man 21 years her senior.

Her Bay to Breakers experience is strange and upsetting. She remembers partying with friends and people she doesn’t know – a girl in leopard skin print, and guy in a white hat and shirt at the popular event, which she gleefully calls “hetero Pride.”

The next thing she remembers is a cab ride. Then he wakes up, at 6:47 p.m. in a bed with black sheets in a house at Fourth and Anza, with bruises. With help from a friend, who had received an alarming text from her, she ends up at San Francisco General Hospital, where she endures an hourslong ordeal in which her “body is treated like a crime scene.” She leaves, wearing a hospital gown open at the back, because authorities confiscated the mumu she wore to the race.

The S.F. police inspector handling her case is unhelpful and unsympathetic, as is her performance artist roommate, who immediately turns her story into a show.

The case remains in limbo for two and a half years, until, with help from a local socialite who heard her story, the DNA in her rape kit is processed, revealing that one possible suspect is not her assailant.

“This nothingness is enormous,” she says, ending with a glimmer of hope, relaying how this performance piece is her attempt to take back her loss. Asking the audience to urge San Francisco police to attend to the backlogged evidence, it’s also a call for action.

REVIEW

The Haze

Where: ACT’s Costume Shop Theater, 1117 Market St., S.F.

When: 7 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays; closes Sept. 27

Tickets: $20 at door

Contact: https://www.artful.ly/store/events/3845

About The Author

Leslie Katz

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