Edinburgh Fringe 2016
Karen claims she was raped by the star quarterback at her University. Let’s be honest, you know what happens next.
From the very moment that you enter the theatre and see 12 people standing you are captured. This is an exceptional piece of theatre with an unexceptional storyline. We know what happens when a young girl claims that she did not consent to sex with a major figure within any world. We know how they are treated and tweeted and we know all too often that it ends up with a visceral examination of the victim and a thousand apologists for the perpetrator. It should therefore not shock us nor should it makes us angry; but they make us very angry.
Karen was a little bit tipsy and the quarterback had his wicked way with her. When she came forward to explain what happened the police were less than helpful. When it went to the University Court he got expelled. She was then forced to launch a civil appeal as the prosecutor would not prosecute. It was then that a previous victim came forward, because rapists are seldom solo perpetrators.
I may be a little biased. I am a father with responsibility for the bringing up of 5 girls. I am also male. I know that on a night out, statistically that I should go and pick up my gay deaf son first as the likelihood of assault on a night out is more likely for young males in Scotland. Being gay heightens the odds.
I will always go and get the girls first.
It’s simple prejudice and it is simple fear. Whilst my son may get beaten up before they would get raped, the after effects for women are far more horrendous and he will get over it quicker than they would. As someone who has worked with both offenders and victims I similarly know how much devastation being unable or unwilling to hear no can be.
It is not though because I might have insight or the fear that I loved this production, but because the theatricality of it all raised my understanding to a new level. Despite being old and cynical this was a bright and full on enthusiasm for justice that theatre does better than anyone. The acting was both crisp and illuminating. The direction managed to capture when it needed to slow and let us in and speed up and take us on the roller coaster. The theatre arts judged things well with the set being a jumble of artefacts that gave us the hints, nods and suggestions of where we were. I loved the sports reporters who were all American and teeth whilst giving the narrative a gentle push which made the story so much more than just the standard fare. It was that care and attention that brought the story out and slapped us with it to make us pay attention.
The narrative did not shy away from the rape myths, the way that fathers and boyfriends may react and why some victims struggle as much with this as the crime, the way that supporters get targeted too and how finding a female police officer does not guarantee empathy.
This was the last performance for the Fringe and if they can be brought back – drag ’em. This is a tale that needs told and examined for us all to hear. It particularly needs to go into every male common room in every university the world over to allow them to see how their behaviour and their attitudes bring the worst out in those people who think people are objects and their status is an excuse.