This short play has three characters: a woman, a man in camouflage, and a second man who turns out to be a doctor. The camouflage man talks on the phone with his unseen wife; he is angry and suspicious of what she has been doing during his absence. The doctor overhears – and thinks about confronting him, but lets it go. The woman speaks with love and joy of her garden, and later of her “elephant” a frightening large creature with bloody eyes—eventually she cannot see her garden.


Camouflage – a covering that permits both observation and concealment—is a good metaphor for the doctor’s position, although it is worn by the other man. Without actually making it explicit the audience can imagine that the camouflage man is an abuser and the woman is abused. When domestic violence is a widespread but hidden reality, what is the professional responsibility of physicians who suspect patients (or even strangers) of being victims or perpetrators of this crime?

In the introduction to the source volume, the author refers to two personal experiences when he might have intervened and did not.  The original title as published in a 1996 edition of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, reminds us of Susan Glaspell’s story "A Jury of Her Peers."  As with all Nisker’s plays, the text could be read or performed for a live audience.


With Kathy Tomanec whose short story influenced this play.

Primary Source

From Calcedonies to Orchids: Plays Promoting Humanity in Health Policy



Place Published





Nisker, Jeffrey A.

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