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The student newspaper of Imperial College London

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Felix

Issue 1778
The student newspaper of Imperial College London


Keep the Cat Free


Bold and Uneasy!

The Cockpit's latest production Penetration gives a honest and disturbingly brutal account of rape and confusion.

147 C David Monteith Hodge Photographise Please Credit Penetration Dressdmh 3057 Photo: David Monteith Hodge

Arts

in Issue 1778

Play

Penetration

★ ★ ★
Where
The Cockpit
When
Until 9th October
Cost
£14

What constitutes rape? Do people of all ages and genders understand explicit verbal consent? Are the people around us and the systems set in place to redress victims and prosecute offenders well equipped? And more importantly — what’s the detritus of such an offence on the people around us? These are some of the questions that Penetration running at The Cockpit seeks to rake up.  

 Inspired by seven real life incidents, Lloyd-Davies weaves an intricate story revolving around these themes through the lives of seven characters weaves an intricate story revolving around these themes. The story takes off with Anna McIntyre (played by Georgina Armfield) accusing Sean Jackson (played by Calum Wragg-Smith) of rape; and we follow along as their lives unravel from the consequences of that accusation — watching as they turn to the people around them for support and a voice. The story pulls no punches and lays out, with excruciating detail, the follies of the support systems we turn to — be it our parents or spouses, social media, or a support group. 

82 C David Monteith Hodge Photographise Please Credit Penetration Dressdmh 6623 Photo: David Monteith Hodge
Louise Bangay and Calum Wragg-Smith as Felicity and Sean Jackson in Penetration

As for the execution itself, the play is set 'in the round’ at The Cockpit. The characters weave in and out of the pews and, using four simple chairs and some elementary lighting, they serve us a multitude of make-believe settings from police stations to clubs. For the most part however, the play is held together and driven by fast-paced dialogue between just two characters, and the scenes transition in such rapid succession that it feels as though you are watching jump cuts in a David Fincher film. 

...if you walk out of this without feeling unease, you probably haven’t been focusing enough...

The cast all offer convincing portraits of their characters but Louise Bangay, playing Sean’s mother, is a standout as a shell-shocked mother who can’t help but ’seek to understand’. 

The play chooses to steer clear of offering any social commentary or explicitly taking sides — though by choosing to engage only within the confines of those real-life incidents it does give a strong voice to characters clearly biased on the issue. Perhaps that’s the intended effect to highlight the injustice of biased cogs in a system? This for one makes the play hard-hitting, intimate and brutal; but, at key moments, the lack of a unique voice sticks out and the production begins to resemble a collection of regurgitated tabloid stories.  

The play chooses to steer clear of offering any social commentary or explicitly taking sides — though by choosing to engage only within the confines of those real-life incidents it does give a strong voice to characters clearly biased on the issue. Perhaps that’s the intended effect to highlight the injustice of biased cogs in a system? This for one makes the play hard-hitting, intimate and brutal; but, at key moments, the lack of a unique voice sticks out and the production begins to resemble a collection of regurgitated tabloid stories.  

So, go for a complicated, messy, and honest portrayal of rape and consent. Only know — if you walk out of this without feeling unease, you probably haven’t been focusing enough. 

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