By Victoria L. Dammer

The Shot, a new play by Robin Gerber, presents a pivotal moment that changed the course of American history and gave power to a woman who spent years under the control of an abusive husband.

Sharon Lawrence stars in the solo performance as Katharine Graham, daughter of the Washington Post owner. Her wealthy father overlooked her to become publisher of the Post and handed the company’s reins to her husband, Philip. Graham then suffered years of physical and mental abuse at the hands of her husband, and she also endured his philandering until he took his own life with a shotgun.

“Power has no sex,” Graham said, but back in the 60s, it did. It was a misogynist world where men held all the power. Lawrence transformed herself into the persona of Graham so well it was hard to discern she was acting; her hair, dress, mannerisms, and especially life’s pain were all Graham.

Graham recollects about her life before becoming the publisher of the Washington Post with all the infamy, power, and respect she garnered upon exposing the Pentagon Papers. When she became the “new” woman instead of the “traditional” one, she was applauded as the first female Fortune 500 CEO. She successfully ran one of the most influential news publications in the country.

Graham’s traditional life before fame was not an easy one. She was from a wealthy family, abandoned mainly by her socially active and verbally abusive parents; she married Harvard graduate Philip Graham. Although she stated succinctly, “I finally did something right,” with the marriage, her rewards were few other than her children. The play provided glimpses of several physical waves of abuse, although not documented in Graham’s autobiography, but well-known to those in her and her husband’s intimate circle in Washington, D.C. The abuse ended when Philip took his own life.

Graham proposes the question often spoken by abuse victims: “Why didn’t I leave?” Lawrence presents the anguish Graham lived through with her astounding talent during the 75 minutes she was on stage. The audience can relate to this situation that plagues so many women, even to this day. The #metoo movement has brought this continuing harassment to the forefront of the news, and playwright Robin Gerber stated she dreams The Shot “will play a role in holding the focus on abuse.”

Lawrence held the audience breathless during the performance. After the show, an audience member questioned Lawrence if the sadness and abuse disturbed her. She said although she was never involved in this type of relationship, she couldn’t help but feel pity for Graham.

“Such power and privilege, but so trapped,” Lawrence said. Let’s not glorify suicide for the change it made in Graham’s life, for it is a severe subject not to be laughed at. The suicide is just a part of Graham’s story.

During the talk back, Director Michelle Joyner shared the stage with Lawrence and agreed when she said, “We have a duty to tell stories about women.” The entire audience followed with resounding applause.

The Shot, starring Sharon Lawrence, is now through April 23rd. Story written by Robin Gerber; directed by Michelle Joyner;

New Jersey Repertory Company, 179 Broadway, Long Branch, New Jersey. Tickets can be purchased at New Jersey Repertory Company – Year-Round Professional Theater on the Jersey Shore (

Due to Popular Demand Extra Matinee Added on Friday, April 21 at 3pm