Relationship dynamics are not always what they seem. A couple may or not be truly equal partners. They may or may not handle conflicts in healthy ways. What happens behind closed doors belies the public perception of the relationship.
“Battered” is a sharp, intense, compelling play that poses more questions than offers answers. It addresses domestic violence and manipulation without using predictable tropes. When violence occurs in relationships, was the act intentional or just a thoughtless event in the heat of the moment? What are the consequences and are they fair? Is there redemption?
The story revolves around a pair of couples who come from opposing social classes, ages, and economic backgrounds. Eleanor (Susan Glover) and Frederick (Shawn Campbell) are middle-aged, professional, and affluent. Bobby (Brett Watson) and Filomena (Gitanjali Jain) are younger, self-employed, and live by modest means. This cross-section illustrates how perception is not always the whole story.
After a violent argument with Filomena, Bobby is mandated by the court to receive counselling by psychiatrist, Eleanor. Bobby insists that the incident was unintentional- he lost control of himself for a moment. Bobby is inarticulate, immature, and manipulative. Eleanor becomes frustrated with her client. She discusses the situation with her boyfriend, Frederick who believes that Bobby is a criminal. But Eleanor believes that anyone can be rehabilitated in spite of the heinousness of their acts. Filomena is torn between ensuring Bobby gets the help he needs and rebuilding their relationship. She is pragmatic but hopeful.
As the counselling sessions continue, dark cracks begin to appear in Eleanor and Frederick’s relationship. Her controlling and pessimistic nature clashes with Frederick’s easy going personality. However, he admits to being attracted to her darker qualities. The couples’ paths cross with a vicious confrontation and an unexpected violent act. The aftermath leaves many questions and possible outcomes.
The cast is excellent. Mr. Watson captures the man-child Bobby without making him hateful. Ms. Jain is superb, presenting a smart woman trying to get her life under control. Ms. Glover is quietly effective at portraying a seemingly strong woman but who has a hidden streak of malice. Mr. Campbell is terrific and brings much needed levity and tenderness.
Conflict is inevitable in relationships. It is human nature. Can a relationship be salvaged when the bounds of order are crossed? Is forgiveness part of the equation? Or should everyone part ways? The answers are not easy especially when things are not as they seem.
Photo credit Brian Morel
“Battered”: Presented by Infinithéâtre. Directed by Diana Fajrajsl . Written by Arthur Holden. Show runs to November 6; Sunday matinees at 2 pm; at The Rialto Infinite Studio, 5711 ave. du Parc, Montréal. Tickets $25 to $20. For tickets call 514-987-1774 or go to www.infinitheatre.com