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Consent (Susan Elkin reviews)

Show: Consent

Society: Tower Theatre Company

Venue: Tower Theatre. 16 Northwold Road, London N16 7HR

Credits: by Nina Raine. Directed by Ryan Williams.


3 stars

Photo: Robert Piwko

Nina Raine’s perceptive reflection on justice, morality, law and marriage feels as fresh now as it did when it debuted at National Theatre in 2017.

Four lawyers, bantering and often cynical, have interwoven lives. Jake (Nicholas Gill) and Rachel (Zella Rita Mazele) are husband and wife. Edward (Nick Edwards) and Time (Liam Brown) are their colleagues. Kitty (Ruth Kirby) is a publisher on maternity leave, married to Edward and Zara (Natalie Ava Nasr), who’s an actress, is friend of Kitty’s. Then there’s Gayle (Alexa Wall who doubles as Laura, a child custody lawyer) whose alleged rapist is prosecuted by Tim and defended by Edward. The relationships are not straightforward or fixed and there’s a lot of distress and reconciliation much of which relates to who has given sexual consent to whom. It’s certainly a thoughtful play with plenty to say to the me-too generation.

This pleasing production, niftily directed with a fine finale tableau, features seven competent actors who play off, and respond to each other pretty effectively. Liam Brown, in particular, is convincingly naturalistic as a lawyer conducting a difficult interview with a client. Then we see him with his friends sparring grittily while maintaining charismatic calm and quiet sex appeal – an all round impressive performance. Also excellent is Ruth Kelly, initially the exhausted mother of a new born, then as an anxious friend, later as a furious wronged wife and ultimately a in a (sort of) resigned resolution. Her range is striking.

Athena Maria’s set gives us a bar behind some sitting room furniture. It rather neatly serves as a kitchen, a pub and witness box. The sofas have symbolic function too. Moving them to different positions relates to the relationships of their owners in different spaces.

It’s an enjoyable account of a challenging play.


Author information
Susan Elkin Susan Elkin is an education journalist, author and former secondary teacher of English. She was Education and Training Editor at The Stage from 2005 - 2016
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