Actually Shows There Are Three Sides To Every Story
Two first year college students at an Ivy League university have a drunken one-night stand on campus. A pretty humdrum happening... until the woman involved tells a friend that she was 'almost raped' and the nasty chain of events that you'd expect, starts to unfold.
Star American writer Anna Ziegler (Photograph 51) presents us with the two protagonists in overlapping bursts of monologue and occasional flashbacks to dialogue on the night in question.
Billed as being 'three sides to every story', this attempt to present a rounded view of a hazy event is where both the strength and the weakness of the piece lies. Ziegler tries hard to present the nuances of a complex half remembered case but only partly manages this. The third side — the inept college administration trying to unpick the truth — is cleverly alluded to but the couple remain unbalanced, with sympathies often swaying towards one rather than both of them.
To pull off a piece like this, the dialogue needs to be zingy and taut with parry and thrust and it just isn't. There's occasional humour and sparse flashes of tension that feel close to being inspired but they're too infrequent. Mostly things just fail to launch. The facets of race, gender, privilege and consent that underlie the drama feel laboured and undercooked, rather than naturalistic or logical.
The two actors try hard to wring our empathy but ultimately, this isn't a sharp enough script for them to carry.
Actually, Trafalgar Studios, 14 Whitehall, SW1A 2DY, £20-30. Until 31 August 2019
Last Updated 14 August 2019