Not everything is quite what it seems behind closed doors, especially so in Scott James’ drama ‘Between a Man and a Woman’. In Britain alone, it is estimated that there are 1.3 million women who are victims of domestic violence. Stomaching this grim figure is a hard task, but an important one in combating the problem.
Discussing the issue on stage requires a great capacity for emotional empathy. James throws the narrative at full throttle, which frequently comes across as heavy-handed. Manipulative Tom (Millin Thomas) relentlessly controls his wife, the ever-enduring Polly (Jasmine Gleeson), whilst also conducting an affair with uni student Siobhan (Roisin Gardner). Gleeson works hard to give her character dimension and Thomas offers moments where the audience can really get to grips with the trauma he has suffered as a child.
The script trudges along, peppered with blips of chaotic shouting and predictable movement sequences. Charlotte E Tayler offers us a saving grace as Tammy, the concerned sister of Polly. Delivering her monologues with a poetic command, Tayler successfully draws the audience in with a crisp, unflinching conviction.
Unboxing multiple narratives of abuse, trauma and sexual assault creates a lingering feeling of tactlessness in James’ piece. Resolutions to the issues discussed aren’t found, yet the harrowing scars are left ripped open as the house lights come up. Adding unnecessary drama is easily done, especially when the plot teeters on vagueness. Paring back and focusing the drama more thoroughly will give this production the vital restructuring it needs. James’ piece is most intriguing when the moments of silence become resonating bolts of heart-aching beauty. Exploring these pauses in the next run will anchor the script deeper in the heavy ebb and flow of a tumultuous relationship.
This clearly isn’t a professional production yet, but with more guidance, James has the groundwork for creating a beautiful script that tackles an incredibly sensitive subject. - Niall Hunt