Trauma and Empathy Collide in Nothing But The Truth

NBTTTrauma affects people in diverse ways – sometimes unpredictably, and at unexpected times. A traumatized person can seek meaning, hope, intimacy, acceptance and peace by doing things that might seem unreasonable, even crazy, to others.

So what can happen when two traumatized people end up in a relationship together? And what if that relationship has well-known professional boundaries, in which one person clearly has more power than the other? And what can happen when those boundaries are crossed?

In the explosive new play, Nothing But The Truth, by up-and-coming playwright Eve Lederman, we get to see just how this sort of situation can become toxic in a relationship between a therapist and her patient. Even though the patient, Rachel Klein (played by Jessie Gurniak), and the therapist, Dr. Marilyn Morgenstern (played by Michele Legere), are sincere people who act with good intentions (from their points of view), and even though they develop a close relationship, they end up locked in a legal battle that plays out three years later. What went wrong? Why?

As in Diana Son’s Stop Kiss, Lederman’s play moves back and forth between two different points of time, as we learn the causes and consequences of the incident. In the therapy sessions, we see Rachel begin to open up to this new therapist, learn to trust her, even come to see her as a substitute mother. In the deposition room three years later, we discover that each of them is confused and frustrated about how things fell apart.

We also get to experience the perspectives of other characters in their orbit. Marilyn’s lawyer, Stan Goldman (played by Paul Salmon), is an old-school gentleman who’s been at this game for a long time. Over the years he’s developed a cynicism that suggests he doesn’t believe either woman’s story – and may not care what really happened. Rachel’s lawyer, Carmen Garcia (played by Shayna Reiss), is young and green, but on the ascent, having fought the sexism of her profession time and time again. She may believe her client’s story – but should she? Finally, there’s Dr. Jerry Adler (played by Joey Ouellette), Marilyn’s supervisor who, like Stan, has been around long enough that he’s naturally suspicious. But he’s known Marilyn longer than anyone else involved. Is what he’s hearing consistent with the woman he knows?

Trauma is terrible to bear by yourself; finding someone who can truly empathize with you can seem like a gift, almost a miracle. But empathy without judgment, without wisdom, can be dangerous. We can become lost in each other, prone to fantasy, unable to see when the boundaries that protect us have fallen. And when they fall, the damage may be irreparable.

Post Productions will present Eve Lederman’s Nothing But The Truth at The Shadowbox Theatre on April 19, 20, 25, 26, and 27. Doors open at 7:30 PM for an 8:00 show. Tickets are $20 in advance at postproductionswindsor.ca – or at the door if available

Photo: The Headshot Company & Kieran Potter