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Prima Facie review: Jodie Comer makes a cracking stage debut but it's all a bit over-egged

rating showbiz 3

At first glance

Harold Pinter Theatre, London Until June 18, 1h40

Evaluation: rating showbiz 3

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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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