What’s the new popular show amongst men of all ages in Los Angeles? Would you believe: a play that brings to life five women’s stories, all convicted of murdering their abusive male partners? Looking around the full house Saturday night inside Santa Monica’s Edgemar Theater, it would be hard to dispute. The body language was clear. Women sat attentive and engaged, but it was the men who leaned in. Hands holding their chins, elbows on knees, hanging on every detail of how the women became isolated, bullied, terrorized, and finally, desperate enough to fight back in the most final way.

American Coast Theater Company’s Susan Berkompas could not have foreseen the political climate in which her relaunch of this 2003 original would land, but it is one rife with abusive overtones. In response, many men are engaging in conversations online with their female peers re the pervasiveness of sexual assault, and here, live onstage, are five women sharing the kind of stories that for years have been hidden behind a mostly-gendered wall of shame and denial.