The Artistic Home presents the World Premiere of BEATEN.
Playwright Scott Woldman debuts a compelling triple generational tale. Woldman tells the story of the impact of domestic violence on three women in one household. We see these women’s lives unravel into a pile of tangled knots. Their relationships with men and to each other are tainted with distrust, anger and grudges. Woldman effectively showcases the victim and the persecutor in each of his characters. His unexpected plot twists keeps the audience unbalanced. Just when we think we understand someone’s motivation, Woldman ambushes us with an explosive reveal.
Director Katherine Swan pulls us gingerly through this volatile battle zone. We see the attacks. We see the victims. We experience the war firsthand. The women, Kathy Scambiatterra (grandma), Kristin Collins (mom) and Kathryn Acosta (daughter) are superb. They are truly believable as a dysfunctional family. They even look related. The illusion puts us in their kitchen and right in the line of fire.
From lights up, Scambiatterra establishes herself as an unorthodox grandmother by carving a potato into a one-hitter. A caustic Scambiatterra is a boozy, stoned, hot mess. Her performance is authentic. At one point, I laugh with her mean-spirited cackle. And later, I choke back a sob as she cowers in a puddle. Collins gives an exhausting performance as an uptight and controlling caretaker. Collins has further to fall from her established judgmental perch. And she cannonballs it into the turbulent water. Collins is perfectly manic in her confrontations with her daughter’s ex-boyfriend (played by the understated, charismatic Joe Wiens).
The lovely and traumatized Kathryn Acosta (daughter) is the focus of everyone’s attention. Acosta exudes fragility. In her bundled up pajama wear, she looks every bit the damsel in distress. Her unlikely hero is the-nerd-next-door Greg (played by Conor McCahill). Woldman created a quirky narrator-type to guide us through the family angst. The amicable McCahill injects humorous references from films and comic books to describe his overwhelming devotion to Acosta. McCahill voluntarily enters this world of codependence and domination. And he becomes the biggest enabler of all. Not only is he Acosta’s obedient puppy dog, he is Scambiatterra’s berated errand boy and Collin’s punching bag.
Woldman created these flawed characters that earn and lose trust throughout the play. Nothing is predictable. No one is blameless. Everything is complicated by the circumstances. I’m still reeling from last night’s BEATEN. Instead of going to a show, I felt like I went to someone’s home. And the visit left me shaken and helpless.
BEATEN premieres as an American masterpiece. Writing, directing, acting makes this trifecta show a must see.
Running Time: Two hours includes an intermission
At The Artistic Home, 1376 W. Grand
Written by Scott Woldman
Directed by Katherine Swan
Thursdays at 7:30pm
Fridays, Saturdays at 8pm
Sundays at 5pm
Thru August 11th
Buy Tickets at www.theartistichome.org