On 16th January 2020, the co-production of Control by Press Red & Restored was shown at Lambeth Palace in London. Written by Matt Britton and performed by himself and Emily Lawson, Control delves into the narrative of the biblical story Adam and Eve, exploring the dynamics of a marriage played out, tainted by the shame and guilt placed upon Eve when she ate the apple in the garden.
The play explores the wife enduring sexual abuse, her ”no” being disregarded and trodden upon. Mental abuse undercuts throughout, emotionally berating her, belittling her and destroying her personhood using Biblical texts erratically. Out of context, the husband provides his case for male dominance and control over his wife and withholds finances, forcing her to take out a joint bank account. Coercive power is prevalent, creating an atmosphere of tension and heaviness.
The play continues to follow the relationship develop and grow, with insight into each individual through monologues from the actors, situated in the nursery setting and a home group setting. The most profound insight into the lives of victim and perpetrator are out to view, and it is certainly hard to watch and provokes questioning into how we can prevent a confident young woman, evolve into a scared, vulnerable woman, with no self-confidence or energy.
Despite Control being incredibly hard to watch, the actors relate the extent of the churches weakness to recognise and respond to domestic violence. We see the wife’s character eroded through abuse, the church stands silently, supporting the husband’s approach to womanhood. The questions put to the audience are hard, providing much to wrestle and contend.
If nearly 1/3 of women who’ve been in a relationship have experienced physical and/or sexual violence at the hands of their partners, then women in the church will have been victim to this violence.
Control provides a stark wake-up call, of the reality of abuse against women, which is happening across the country and raises the question of how can the church respond positively and humbly to those suffering from violence.
*For further information on Control & to book a performance in your church, click here.