By Dave Andrusko
The word got out quickly. There had been a one-act play preceding the formal beginning of NRLC 2019 that had the audience’s brains engaged, their hearts softened, and their tear ducts working overtime.
The name of the play was “Viable: the truth in one act.” We learned afterwards this was only their third performance, but you would never have known it by the professionalism of the small three-member ensemble or the skill with which they left an indelible message.
Thomas Merton said of art that “it enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” “Viable” is about the ripple effect of the deliberate destruction of a tiny unborn baby. We know this, but many don’t. Abortion is wrong first and foremost because it takes the life of a child whose only “crime” is that she obeyed the laws of fetal development. But, as the lead actress in “Viable” reminded us after the play, abortion is not only about the inhumanity heaped on a defenseless child. The list of causalities is stunning.
Abortion often maims the mother’s soul, allows men to act like cowards, sours if not destroys marriages, and leaves a hole in a woman’s heart that often is filled with mountains of rage and anger.
I will not offer a “spoiler alert” so I can then give away the “punchline. Let me write around it and encourage you to see it for yourself.
“Viable” is about reconciliation 30 years in the making following a secret abortion. The woman’s husband can never quite understand his wife Judy’s rage. Their marriage resembles an armed truce. George doesn’t know that prior to their marriage, Judy had an abortion following a brief fling with an old boyfriend.
The other two subtexts are that Judy is getting a bit older and longs to be “free” as she was as a young woman. The other is that their daughter Becky is married, successful, and pregnant–and not sure if she is going to have an abortion.
She doesn’t know her mother aborted a younger sibling and you can only assume among all the other baggage of guilt weighing Judy down is the apprehension Becky will follow in her mother’s footsteps.
Judy eventually tells George about the abortion, and “Viable” turns on why and how that came about. Enough to say that after an eruption of hypocritical indignation, George comes to acknowledge that he came to their marriage with his own sexual baggage—and that women do not get pregnant on their own.
This is a play steeped in the Christian faith, a recognition that our God is a forgiving God who seeks reconciliation with His children regardless of their pasts. “Viable” reminds us that abortion acts like an out-of-control wrecking ball, wreaking havoc for generations to come. Judy is truly “free” only when she comes to grips with her abortion and asks for forgiveness.
For more information about “Viable,” visit viableplay.org.