Directed by Katherine Swan
At The Artistic Home, Chicago
Smartly clever with well developed character marks this refreshingly insightful dysfunctional family drama
It is a pleasure to see an well written dysfunctional family drama that is cliche-free, smart and filled with flawed yet very human characters. Scott Woldman’s world premiere, Beaten, presents a terrific written and structured drama that demonstrates how abuse, physical and psychological , can be spread from generation to generation in a family. This powerful and shocking play grabs you and holds you until the end as we see all sides of the cycle of anger, violence and their lingering affects. Beaten is a gem that begs an audience.
Beaten is narrated by the nerdy comic book store employee Greg (Conor McCahill), genius college dropout who is smitten by Chloe (Kathryn Acosta) -a victim of violence by her true love Jason (Joe Wiens). Chloe is housebound and haunted by trauma she suffered. Chloe is cared for by her foul-mouthed, pot-smoking, dying of cancer grandmother Eileen (Kathy Scambiattera). There is also Madelynne (Kristin Collins), the enabler mother to Chloe and daughter to Eileen who struggles to keep the household going as she continuously battles with her obnoxious mother as well as trying to keep her daughter from following her into an unhappy marriage to a loser. She tries to reunite Chloe with Justin (the perpetrator of the injury to Chloe) since she fears that Greg will eventually seduce Chloe as he plays out becoming Chloe’s knight in shinning armor. Justin is a lawyer, Greg is a store clerk.
This kitchen-sink drama features well-developed characters that we come to realize are very flawed and very human. The actions and twists in the plot are plausible and earned by how each character is presented. The three generations of woman are affected by the cycle of violence each have suffered. We see that each can lash-out against one another given enough stress. We see Chloe slowly, with Greg’s help, comes out of her shell toward normalcy until the feared and hot-tempered Justin finally gets to explain what happened the night he induced violence on Chloe. The subtext of why Eileen and Madelynne hate each other is alps vividly played. The dynamic here is riveting, surprising, and plausible. What people will do in the name of love is demonstrated making the cliche “love is everything” irrelevant.
What makes Beaten so compelling are the terrific performances by the cast. Conor McCahill, once he slows down and stops mumbling in several of his monologues, is most empathetic. Kristin Collins and Kathryn Ascota were excellent in the troubled mother-daughter dynamic. Kathy Scambiatterra is a hoot as the tough, foul-mouthed pot-smoking grandmother. We empathize with the characters and we see the flaws within each as we try to decide what and who is best for Chloe. You’ll be surprised at how it all plays out. Beaten is a worthy play.
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: July 5, 2013
For more info checkout the Beaten page at theatreinchicago.com
At The Artistic Home, 1376 W. Grand, Chicago, IL, call 312-243-3963, www.theartistichome.org, tickets $28 – $32, Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Friday & Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 5 pm, running time is 2 hours with intermission, through August 11, 2013