Domestic abuse is abuse, whether physical or psychological. The thriller "Angel Street," which will be performed by the Mid-Ohio Valley Players, tackles the topic of the ongoing psychological and eventual physical abuse of a woman at the hands of her murderous husband.
Set in Victorian London, the play, also known as "Gas Light" in Britain and later an American movie starring Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer, focuses on the Manninghams. Jack and Bella are a middle class married couple who seem to have some serious issues in their marriage, including the husband's violent and shady past and his efforts to drive his wife mad by psychologically torturing her with "kindness" - making her think that he is concerned for her well-being.
"Jack is a husband who is making his wife believe she is going crazy," said Ray Ryan, a veteran performer on the MOVP stage, who is portraying Jack. "He really is a bad guy. He starts off being verbally abusive and it progresses to some physical violence towards the end."
Photo submitted by Bob Parsons
Ray Ryan as Jack Manningham, left, Tara Polan as his wife, Bella, center, and Olivia Polan as the maid, right, rehearse a scene from the Mid-Ohio Valley Players production of “Angel Street.” The thriller deals with psychological domestic abuse and a portion of money raised from a 50/50 drawing, to be held each night, will benefit EVE, Inc.
Ryan said he grew a beard to play the character, something which was noted in the character description in the script, and that costuming really helps him to get into a role. However, Ryan wouldn't describe himself as a method actor.
"I have not taken the role home with me. I am able to leave the character once I leave the stage," he said.
Tara Polan plays the tragic wife Bella; Kathy Biery plays the housekeeper; and Olivia Polan is the maid, and object of Jack's flirtatious advances. Marty Durham is Inspector Rough, who comes to Bella's aid.
If you go
What: "Angel Street," a production by Mid-Ohio Valley Players. A 50/50 drawing will be held each night with proceeds going to EVE, Inc.
When: Friday and Saturday and March 23-24, 30-31 at 8 p.m.; March 25 at 3 p.m.
Where: Players' theater at 227 Putnam St. in Marietta.
Tickets: Adults, $10, senior/student $8, youth $5. Tickets available at midohiovalleyplayers.org., at the theater box office and at Marty's Print Shop, 307 Third St.
For information: midohiovalleyplayers.org.
EVE, Inc. hotline: 374-5819.
"I really liked the idea of doing a mystery/drama," said Durham, 50, of Belpre, who has been with the MOVP for nine years. "My character adds a little bit of tension relief. He's eccentric and he thinks out loud."
Mark Abicht and Kermit Polan round out the cast of characters that are being directed by current MOVP president and long-time member, Billie Harmon.
The production will be working in conjunction with EVE, Inc., the local domestic violence shelter, to bring awareness and raise money for the organization.
"There will be a 50/50 drawing each night and we will get the proceeds," said EVE co-executive director, Annelle Edwards. "We will also have a table set up to provide brochures, how to donate to EVE and more information."
Edwards, who previewed the play Monday evening, said the issues in this play may strike a chord with those who have suffered abuse of any kind.
"(The play) is kind of intense and might churn up some emotion. Domestic abuse perpetrators do often use psychological abuse but many (sufferers) may not think that they are being abused since it is not violent. And it is very hard to prove something like that to the police," Edwards explained.
The show will be performed Friday and Saturday, as well as March 23, 24, 30 and 31 at 8 p.m. and March 25 at 3 p.m. Tickets are available at midohiovalleyplayers.org.