This is part of IndyFringe 2022, Aug. 18-Sept. 4 (individual performance times vary) in downtown Indianapolis. Details and tickets at IndyFringe.org.
By John Lyle Belden
A handsome, sharp-dressed successful man casually relates an old saying, “A jealous man can’t work; a scared man can’t gamble,” little realizing how that relates to his whole world coming apart.
In “Trapped!” by Greg Stalworth, Cincinnati-based performers Curtis Drake Shepard and Jacqueline Johnson-Wilkinson portray a couple, Richard and Michelle, who have it all, including a 15-year marriage. But the high-stakes stress of running his Fortune 500 company grows suspicion in Richard’s mind. Michelle, who he had regarded as the “battery” that powered his life, is now his “trophy,” a precious possession that others certainly covet, an object that he can control.
For her part, Michelle notices the changes, but tells herself he’ll change back. By the time the abuse becomes unbearable, she can barely manage an escape. Shame and her husband isolating her from her peers keep her from reaching out to them, and she falls among society’s disposable rejects.
This unrelenting drama may have triggers for those with similar trauma as depicted and described here. This is hard to watch, in a good way. Shepard bares his character’s ego, letting us see all the ugly a man can become, and the sorrow it finally brings him. Johnson-Wilkinson breaks our hearts, showing us the folly of both Michelle’s denial and our feelings of “why doesn’t she just…” The production aims to be a wake-up call to men and women who see themselves in their shoes, as well as awareness to those who might know them.
Could so much misfortune visit one woman? Shepard says Stalworth wrote this short play in response to a death in his own family. Domestic violence prevention advocates will tell you that part or all of what happens to Michelle has been and is happening to somebody, somewhere, today.
As Michelle says, “Don’t cry for me, cry out because of me.”
Also, just as importantly, can such a man be redeemed? Watch “Trapped!” – performances Aug. 20, 27 and 28, in the Athenaeum – and judge for yourself.