Anthony J. Piccione
Domestic violence and abuse has been a painful and far too prevalent issue facing American families. While it is something that is tragic in all situations, it is especially horrible to hear about such abuse happening to young children, whom often carry that trauma well into adulthood. Yet Spitting In The Face Of The Devil – one of two solo-shows currently being produced by JMTC Theatre – shows no hesitation in boldly diving into this important issue, in a very personal manner.
Written and performed by Bob Brader, this autobiographical piece tells the story of the horrific abuse that he, his friends and other family members had frequently endured, at the hands of his father, whom he refers to as “Devil”. While Brader certainly does a fine job in the performance of the show, it is the writing itself that is the strongest aspect, which describes so much in vivid detail, it was easy to picture it in one’s head, and it made this reviewer often feel disturbed (which is exactly how one should feel, with a story like this) by how horrible the pain inflicted on him and on others had been.
Over the course of the play, Mr. Brader mostly stays sitting in his chair, and he recounts the dark and events of his past. He only gets up on a few occasions during the show, and usually, it seems to be to demonstrate when he is standing in front of a group. However, Brader is consistent in delivering his lines with enough emotion and conviction – including when portraying the moments that focus more on characters, other than himself – to ensure the powerful story that he is telling the audience gets heard clearly.
The production is directed by Suzanne Bachner, whose own brilliant piece The Good Adoptee is also currently being produced at the same venue. The production is very minimalistic, in terms of its more technical aspects. With just the chair and a small desk, the writing and the performance are the primary focus of this production. This production also does make some good use of lighting transitions, in terms of setting the tone of each aspect of the story.
All in all, the powerful story of the play – and the emotion with which Mr. Brader tells it – are already just enough to make it worth going to see. However, in case that’s not enough to convince you, it is worth noting that the funds raised through tickets sales for this production go to Safe Horizon, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping victims of domestic abuse. So if this is an issue close to your heart, then that – along with the play, itself – certainly makes this a show that’s worth considering, if you have the chance to see it during its current run.
“Spitting In The Face Of The Devil" – presented by JMTC Theatre – runs at the Bridge Theatre at Shetler Studios from January 14th-20th. For more information, please visit www.jmtcinc.com