The Devil You Know

Last night I had the pleasure of watching a performance of “The Devil You Know,” a two-act play written and directed by Andrea Daniels. Performed by the Barley Sheaf Players, the performance was a benefit for The Domestic Violence Center of Chester County.

The Devil You KnowThe play was a thoughtful and sensitive treatment of the emotional, psychological and social issues surrounding domestic violence. It is the story of Annabel (played by Mary Kate Kenney), a young woman who fled her childhood home where she lived with her two sisters and a physically and verbally abusive mother. Ten years after running away, she returns to confront her past and the family she left behind. But before she musters the courage to confront her mother, Annabel finds herself falling in love with the charmingly mysterious Gabe (played by Chris Tribel). Gabe also grew up in an abusive environment, and is in treatment for battering his former wife. The bittersweet romance that develops between Annabel and Gabe reflects the unfortunate tendency for victims of abuse to find themselves attracted to abusive personality types. The story provides a probing and sympathetic look into the lives of those caught up in the perpetual cycle of domestic violence, and the struggle to overcome “the devil you know.”

Laura ShayMaking a significant contribution to the impact of the performance was the haunting music of Laura Shay. I heard Laura’s music at last year’s performance of “Counting Mississippis,” where I also purchased her CD, “To a Place.” I subsequently wrote a brief review of this recording on iTunes, where it is available for download. I have to say that her music for “The Devil You Know” was particularly refined, and would hope that at least some of it will appear on a future CD release. In the meantime, you can listen to more of her music on her MyPlace site.

By the way, the above photo of Laura Shay was taken by Nicole Ulicney, one of my former teaching assistants in the large lecture class I teach at West Chester University. More of her photographic talent is on display on her web site,

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