By Edward Kliszus
Scrambled Eggs by the author Reginald L. Wilson made its world premiere at the Gene Frankel Theater in New York City. It was crafted in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It was billed as a “compelling play on domestic violence is meant to incite conversation, build understanding, and inspire advocacy.”
Happily Ever After
As the audience settled in, gentle songs about love, romance, and broken promises gently stirred portentously in the air. Some audience members sang along as they found their seats. Later, during a poignant scene, the music reemerged with Happily Ever After by Case. Tonight’s story is about a young couple with a beautiful, innocent child. Broken hearts, intense pain, hope, and promise. Happily Ever After can ring hollow.
The Birthday Card
The setting is an ordinary, modest apartment that looks like a nice place to raise children. It’s morning, and Terrance (Reginald L. Wilson) is busy cooking with a frying pan. His son Little T (Christopher Woodley) is finishing the birthday card he made for his mother, Sable (Tatiana Scott). While Reginald initially seems to acknowledge the little boy’s work, he criticizes it to the point that he gruffly orders him to throw it in the trash and start a new one.
Smiles and Hugs
The good-natured, loving Sable appears, smiling because it’s her birthday. Lil T retrieves the card from the trash and gives it to her. He also gives her a T shirt and he’s rewarded with her smiles and hugs.
Everything about breakfast seems to annoy Terrance as he swings from slightly kind to impatient and short-tempered. We soon discover that Terrance frequently enjoys “smoke” (marijuana) and alcohol and works as a day laborer. Sable holds a teaching license but stays home to raise Lil T.
Buy More Smokes
Played by Simone Black and K. Sidney, Sable’s parents give her several hundred dollars as a birthday gift. This money prompts the escalation of Terrence’s abusive behavior. He accuses Sable of hiding it and argues that it’s his, not Sable’s since he pays the bills. He eventually takes all the money and leaves to buy more “smokes.”
As the story unfolded, we met Terrance’s good friend Shawn (Steven Strickland). Shawn is a kindly, romantic young man committed to the best interests of Terrence and Sable. Sable’s best friend Janice (Ria Alexander) is back in town and president of MAAM, Mothers Against Abusive Men. Sable’s parents are loving and supportive.
Escalation Into Violence
The powerful cast portrayed the heartbreak, abuse, and escalation into violence. Viewers cringed and spoke out to voice frustration and compassion. Others sympathetically wept along with Sable and her mother. When Shawn finally punched the explosive, drunken, and raged-filled Terrence to prevent him from punishing Lil T or hurting Sable, audience members rang out in support.
The range of emotions among witnesses to this story spanned empathy, fear, anxiety, anger, confusion, and helplessness. Witnessing violence against the lovely, kind Sable prompted a sense of shock, disbelief, and profound sadness. For those who may have suffered abuse themselves, the violence may have invoked a sense of PTSD.
We were reminded that when one family member is abused and isolated, all friends and family suffer.
Bravo to the cast for portraying a difficult story that needs to be told. The cast empowered their full energies and artistic powers into their respective roles.
Tatiana Scott, as the protagonist Sable, touched hearts as she endeavored to placate the angry and disturbed Terrence. With the surprise ending, we’re not sure how Sable fared, but from the onset, Sable represented hope and love. She did all she could to make the marriage work.
Special mention is due to Reginald L. Wilson. Not only is he the acclaimed author of Scrambled Eggs, but he also performed the part of the alcohol-addled and disturbed antagonist Terrance. Wilson deftly portrayed the emotional, psychological, and behavioral aspects of individuals who engage in domestic violence. Clearly, he has the emotional intelligence and ability needed to perform difficult, emotionally draining scenes. At the same time, to effectively characterize Terrance, Wilson must feel empathy for real victims.
On stage, Wilson revealed his uncanny skills in movement, voice, and language, which are essential to bringing Terrence to life. It also took great emotional strength to separate his personal beliefs and values from the character he masterfully played.
Tonight was also a reminder and learning event. Scrambled Eggs reminded us that victims of domestic violence experience significant mental torment from the prolonged abuse they endure. They live in fear, resulting in anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They develop low self-esteem and are likely to blame themselves for the abuse experience, prompting feelings of guilt, shame, and powerlessness. Their relationships with others may suffer, and since they often feel isolated, they may have trouble developing healthy and trusting relationships.
THE CAST of Scrambled Eggs
Tatiana Scott as Sable
Reginald L. Wilson as Terrence
Steven Strickland as Shawn
Ria Alexander as Janice
Simone Black as Sable’s mother
K. Sidney as Sable’s Father
Christopher Woodley as Lil T
Understudy for the role of Lil T is Montgomery CP Steele
Thomas Gordon, Sound and Technical Director
Marlon Campbell, Set and props,
Lucky Pearto, Lighting designer
Ria Alexander, Costume Designer
Rosita Timm, Stage Manager
Gail Thacker, Artistic Director of the Gene Frankel Theatre
Gene Frankel Theatre
Runs through October 29.
Running time 2 hours, including a 15-minute intermission
This play is unsuitable for children under 17 due to subject matter and language.