“Confessions of a Side Chick,” a scintillating play that recently came to the Lincoln Theatre, breaks down an interesting dynamic of some relationships in an attempt to understand a mistress’s point of view.
Cassandra (Lisa Renee Marshall) endures verbal, physical, financial, sexual and emotional abuse while in such a relationship, yet stays in the name of love.
“I think with a lot of women there is that fantasy that one day we are going to be one big happy family,” Marshall said. “Yeah, he is with someone else but I think I’m going to stick it out until he comes around. That’s a huge mistake because a lot of times they don’t leave their wives. Another mistake is staying for the sake of the child. You’re not helping your child because they need to see you in a healthy relationship so they know what to look for.”
Cassandra’s beau is Mike, a married man who is the father of her spunky daughter Chase (Sunee Neverson) and a reliable source of money. At one point, she is in desperate need for cash and Mike, played by Omar Terell, helps her financially but not without a fair price of sexual compensation and ridicule.
“It’s natural for a woman to want a man to provide,” Terrell said. “There is a trend where being a side chick is a thing. In today’s culture, with ‘stripper rappers’ dominating the hip-hop industry, you get men with money who can manipulate and control women with that mindset.”
Throughout most of the play, Cassandra is belittled by Mike, his wife Heather (Teranee Fransha), and a friend. She begins to turn to substance abuse while one comrade tries to convince her to stay with Mike due to the financial support and the other encourages her to leave the tumultuous relationship alone and date other men.
“A good friend is always there for you, right or wrong,” says Dremon Cooper, who plays Lonnie, Cassandra’s close friend. “Even though you know that they deserve what’s best for them, sometimes they don’t see it, so you just have to be supportive through everything.”
The play, which ran July 20, was presented by DC Black Broadway, the creators of the theatrical productions “Stranger in My House,” “What Your Man Won’t Do” and “The Giz.”
The dynamics of the play compound while other men try to pursue Casandra despite her endearment for Mike. She turns down dates, sincere companionship and potentially healthy relationships with others. Cassandra knows that Mike will keep coming back to her, so she makes sure that she remains available.
“I think it starts from men not getting the attention they want from home,” said playwright Lovail M. Long Sr. “Men marry someone wholesome so they may have fantasies that they think their wives would not agree to perform. Men would be surprised [by] what their wives might do if they just ask.”
Open communication is the key to a healthy relationship. It is common to try to make a situation work, give up, and find oneself right back in a similar predicament.
“You can’t change a man,” Marshall said, reflecting on her own previous marriage. “Only God can do that. It’s about recognizing the signs and not ignoring them. You have to protect your sanity. The most important thing is self-love.”