At first glance
Harold Pinter Theatre, London Until June 18, 1h40
If you watched Netflix’s Anatomy Of A Scandal, you might have gotten the impression that all MPs are rapists.
Now there’s more sexual assault on offer in this grueling solo show, starring Killing Eve’s Jodie Comer as a lawyer. A stunning start to the scene for her; shame about the game.
Comer plays a Liverpudlian, working-class criminal defense attorney. She’s sleek, sharp, and adept at getting men off sexual assault charges, using all sorts of cunning schemes to woo the jury or crush a witness.
Jodie Comer (above) plays a Liverpudlian, working-class criminal defense attorney in this jaw-dropping debut. It’s just a shame for the game
From her spacious office, lined with files, she ushers us into an imaginary courtroom and shows us the adrenaline rush of a legal fight in the middle of a fight.
Things go wrong for her, however, on a very drunken night. She goes home and ends up squeezing the toilet seat.
She goes back to bed with her one-night stand, a fellow lawyer, worried about her vomited breath and dying for a kip. Then, in graphic detail, we hear how he violates her. It’s horrible.
I would in no way want to ignore the seriousness of the rape. But as a court case, that seems a bit unlikely.
Disclosure: My wife is a criminal lawyer and handles a lot of sexual assault cases. She has never heard of, let alone represented, a lawyer accused of attacking a colleague.
Not that it can’t happen, but in this case there is a theatrical artifice pong.
Suddenly, Comer stops being a ruthless legal eagle and becomes a cowering victim who just wants his mommy.
From then on, Suzie Miller’s monologue begins to spiral down the cork hole.
Our heroine ceases to be a character in the play and becomes the righteous spokesperson for all women who have been assaulted and deprived of justice.
You can’t help but be moved by his argument, but the monologue becomes as dead as a parrot. You get an editorial, not a play.
Comer fans won’t be disappointed, though. She’s completely fearless on stage, she never slips up, and there’s even a hint of Villanelle in her freshness. I would say his performance is a bit over the top.
But of the accusation of not having made a good impression, she is certainly not guilty.