6th November 2023
Trigger warnings — this review contains discussion of sexual violence and assault.
This play originally debuted in 2017 at the National Theatre, it revolves around a group of wealthy lawyers based in London dealing with both their professional and private lives. Consent confronts topics of intelligence, justice, and sexual violence, it is truly one of the most intense plays I have ever seen. The intensity has to be credited to the incredible performances by the cast, and the intimate staging.
From the offset, Consent throws the audience into the deep end with a joking conversation that includes references to the Rape cases the characters are working on. Edward’s character is fascinating, representing the danger of over-intellectualising one’s emotions, he loses his relationship in part due to this.
A striking focus of the play is rape and justice, with numerous conversations focusing on the issues of the justice system and what justice itself is. Marriage and family are also central to the play, with discussions of infidelity, child custody and marital rape. Throughout the play I increasingly disliked the characters more and more, no one escapes judgement or represents a flawless character. Despite this, as you may be able to tell from the LUDS consent Instagram, Edward, and Jake truly are insufferable.
The sign of an incredible performance of a play like Consent is how much you dislike the characters. I will say that this cast did an impressive job of being insufferable.
Molly Thirlwall’s performance as Kitty was captivating, a character who is by no means perfect, but I felt genuinely bad for her. Molly was particularly believable in the Christmas scene during the argument between Kitty and Ed. She captured the isolation and anger someone married to a man who has no empathy and intellectualises everything might experience, particularly after having a child.
Other standout performances for me include Alex Hemley as Jake and Tom Anning as Edward. Alex was perfectly frustrating and unstable as Jake, while simultaneously bringing comedic moments to an otherwise sombre play. Tom’s performance of Edward was all-encompassing, ranging from rage to complete desperation, all of which was portrayed completely convincingly. He impressively displayed a lack of empathy and complete emotional distance, something incredibly difficult in a role that also features intense emotion.
Credit to the rest of the cast who put in equally as impressive performances like Ara Lotfi as Rachel; Arissa Agyekum as Zara, Sufya Zaidani as Laura/Gayle and Adam Crist as Tim.
A play is truly nothing without everyone behind the scenes. Therefore, a final congratulations must go to Director Hannah Beckett who has done a vastly impressive job, aided by Assistant Director Lauren Harrison and Producer Charlotte Rist. Last but certainly not least Stage Manager Georgie Dale and Lighting/Sound Tech Heather Zdebski. The direction, staging, and props — especially the deadly kettle — made the performance!
This was such an incredible performance and there is so much more to come from LUDS this year, including Death of A Salesman next week!
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