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Abusive Parents / Theatre

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  • One of the characters in Voices From the High School is abused by his father, and he eventually talks to a friend about it.
    • Another example is Millie's mother, who gave her alcohol as a young child to "help with naps."
  • Spring Awakening has Martha and Ilse, who both suffer from this sort of abuse. The song "The Dark I Know Well" is all about sexual abuse.
    • Moritz's father is emotionally and physically abusive after Moritz fails out of school. This leads to his suicide in the second act.
  • In Electra, Clytemnestra and Aegisthus verbally abuse Electra, confine her to the house, prevent her from marrying, and leave her in neglect. This crosses over into physical abuse with their plan to seal her up in a cave to die.
  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street has Adolfo Pirelli, who is physically abusive toward his ward Tobias Ragg. According to Toby, Pirelli is "a good one with the lashings", and his treatment of the boy during the street scene is deplorable. This sets Pirelli up quite nicely as an Asshole Victim even before The Reveal of his past with Sweeney and his attempt to blackmail him.
  • In Wicked, Elphaba's adoptive father is emotionally abusive, due to favouring Nessarose over Elphaba.
  • In Les MisÚrables, the Thenardiers are this to Cosette, who they are in charge of while Fantine works and sends them money to care for her. Instead of looking after her, they beat her, dress her in rags, leave her in the cold, and force her to do all their chores. Their own daughter, Eponine, is treated like a princess as a child. When she's a teenager and actually in her father's gang though, she's treated far more roughly by him. Most notable is the scene in which Thenardier and his gang try to rob Valjean's house, and Eponine screams to warn them. Thenardier threatens her for that and, in many productions, slaps her to shut her up. In the full version of "Beggars at the Feast", both the Thenardiers are horribly dismissive when Marius sadly tells them how Eponine is now dead.
  • Buried Child has Dodge and Halie. Both emotionally abuse their sons onstage. Prior to the events of the play, Halie has sex with Tilden producing a baby which Dodge drowns.
  • In Heathers, Big Bud Dean, J.D.'s father, is emotionally abusive to his son, makes some very unsettling comments about his son's girlfriend, apparently drove his wife to suicide, and is constantly drunk. Physical abuse is also heavily implied.
  • In Perfect Pie, both of Marie's parents are abusive, especially her mother. While her father is 'just' extraordinarily neglectful to her and constantly drunk, her mother is aggressively physically and emotionally abusive to her.
  • Elisabeth: Rudolf suffers from emotional neglect from both his parents since his childhood. His mother fought to have final say in how her children are raised, then gave up. His father caved in to please his wife, then aggressively rebuts Rudolf's efforts to create change in the Empire. note  His grandmother Sophie, the only one seen doing any actual parenting for Rudolf, insists on training him to be a ruthless soldier/ruler because the boy is too soft. Small wonder the highly-sensitive, ultra-liberal Prince snapped, given that the only person who seems to care about him to some degree is Death.
  • Lizzie: Mr. Borden is raping Lizzie, and it's implied that his other daughter, Emma, is a victim, too. This ultimately gets him killed.
  • In Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, Old Prince Bolkonsky is emotionally abusive towards his daughter Mary.