Nina Raine’s Consent is a new play currently on at the National Theatre and it’s a must see for our age group….

Written by Nina Raine, Consent focuses on the intellectually arrogant disdain meted out by public school barristers to the world. In this case it focuses on a rape victim frustrated (understatement of the year) by the judicial process of the “innocent until proven guilty” fallacy that
juxtaposes the dispassionate and impersonal legal approach with the emotion of the victim.

The script is much funnier (in parts) and more multi-layered than I anticipated it would be and it is incredibly engaging. The idea of restorative justice weaves through all the characters lives as she successfully intertwines a painful court case with lots of domestic drama. We painfully witness the rape victim’s trauma seep into the lives of the intellectuals trying to manage their personal lives with varying degrees of failure. Nina Raine plays with the concept of consent and of what forgiveness means to different people. She also deals with empathy, understanding and how not to be an arsehole by learning how to say “sorry” and meaning it.

The actors are brilliant and my first shout out goes to the live baby they bring on stage in the first scene. The script has some hilarious lines and loads of swearing. Right up my street. “Fucking fuck the fuck off” was the best line in the swearing department.

Ben Chaplin – actor andĀ gorgeous specimen of a man

Firstly though, I got a bit of a shock because standing on the stage was a man I had fondly come to know as “Napkin Man”, someone I was having mild fantasies about, having struck up a conversation with him at the local coffee shop on my way to work. On the first morning I met him, he was next to me as we bought coffee, suddenly he said “OMG my napkin has just flown on to your foot like an angel”. I should have guessed he was an actor immediately. I looked down and there was his napkin draped across my foot which I picked up hastily and handed back to him, not really knowing how to respond. A few days later there we were again and so I told him to keep a close eye on his napkin in case it flew off again. I almost made a joke about it going “where angels fear to tread” but thought that might look a little contrived. For the next week or so he was there every day, a gorgeous specimen of a man who turned out to be Ben Chaplin.

Ben plays Edward, a barrister married to Kitty, played wonderfully by Anna Maxwell Martin. They were joined in the first scene by Jake, played by Adam James who threw out some of the best lines of the play and was brilliant. He is married to Rachel, played by Priyanga Burford and together the four of them set the scene with some excellent public school banter flying around like wildfire.

ConsentĀ is a really excellent, enjoyable and thought-provoking play and I highly recommend it.

 

Not sure about the set design – it was a bit like being in the lighting department of British Home Stores, nevertheless it was effective and very simply done and it certainly did the job of keeping your eyes on the actors at all times.

 

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