Handsome Alice Theatre’s Between Us a provocative tale of domestic violence

Caroline Russell-King offers her review of Handsome Alice Theatre’s current production Between Us.

Show: Between Us.

Playwright/composer: Co-created by Meg Farhall and Michael Rolf.

Theatre: Handsome Alice Theatre in the Studio Theatre at Vertigo Theatre.

Length: One act (80 mins.), intermission (15 mins.), “Act Two” the panel discussion (20 mins.).

Genre(s): Drama (however a case could be made for Interpretive Theatre, which by definition is to provoke, relate, reveal, have message unity and address the whole).

Premise: A man picks up a woman in a bar, domestic violence ensues and escalates.

Why this play? Why now?: According to the playwright notes, “Between Us began as an idea about using theatre to start a conversation about the prevalence of domestic violence in Alberta.” 

Curiosities: I wondered why the pre-show speech had to include a lecture on the politics we should be paying attention to. Is this why “the right” hates “the left/woke”? When did theatre programs include social issues advertisements before the cast list? Why do plays have to be explained to us? When did we stop talking about art? 

Notable moment: The last scene cements the abuser as the protagonist.

Notable writing: It’s brave for a new artistic producer to open the season with her own show. The show has some moments of lighter dialogue to contrast the inevitable ugly escalation of violence. (This isn’t a spoiler alert, we know all about the content before going into the theatre.)

Notable performances: The co-writers cast themselves in the roles and are not without talent, sharing a certain frenetic chemistry.

Notable design: I can’t say that I understood the set or costume design. “Violence Design” is a new term for me. I’m old enough to remember when directors directed intimacy and violence.

Notable direction: Vanessa Porteous meets the challenges inherent in the smash cut of filmic scenes in the script. Set in a thrust stage configuration the action is never static.

One reason to see this show: If you need information on domestic violence you might try this unconventional route.

Between Us runs until Feb. 29 at the Vertigo Theatre.

Caroline Russell-King is a playwright, dramaturg, and instructor. She is a member of The Playwrights Guild of Canada, the Dramatist Guild of America and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. You can find her work here at