By Laurie Scarborough
The new Canned Rice Productions offering, Court., starring Candice van Litsenborgh and Claire-Louise Worby opened at the Alexander Bar Theatre on Monday 4 July.
From the first chords of Tori Amos’ stripped back and haunting cover of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (which was a fitting soundtrack for this production) I was completely transfixed. The play follows Tawny, the victim in a ferociously publicised statutory rape case and the reporter who convinces her to give an exclusive interview, 22 years after the fact.
Scenes flip between the interview and the teenage Tawny preparing for her testimony in court. Inspired by the life of Samantha Geimer, who was raped at the age of 13 by film director Roman Polanski, the play looks at layers of victimhood, and the expectations that people hold victims to for their behaviour and their reaction to trauma.
The play also delves into the assignment of blame in rape cases (“was she dressed appropriately?” or “did she drink too much?”) and how blame is so often inappropriately laid on the victim.
The usefulness of the media is also questioned, especially in cases where the media is reduced to simply hounding a victim for blood. The question of blame is also considered from a media perspective. How much can a victim blame the media for the grief they provide, when a perpetrator is actually to blame in a sensationalised crime?
The script, written by Candice van Litsenborgh, was exceptionally conceptualised, with strong character definement and development. There were moments of humour and several moments when the audience was taken aback by the brutal honesty of the dialogue and the delivery of the performances.
Claire-Louise Worby was excellent. Her performance was extremely convincing and she managed to play both the teenage Tawny with a subtly of believable teenagedom, as well as the journalist who later interviews the adult Tawny about the case, with humour and unapologetic outrage. Candice, too, was superb, playing both the lawyer and the adult Tawny to the t.
Richard Wright-Firth should also be commended on his directorial work for the show – it was a smooth and well-thought out production.
The play could not have come at a better time too, following the highly publicised conclusion to the Brock Turner rape trial. The story is important for anyone to hear and performed by two absolute pros.
The show plays at the Alexander Bar Theatre from 11 to 16 July. You can book your ticket here.