Legal arguments put on trial in Loft latest - The Leamington Observer

Legal arguments put on trial in Loft latest

Leamington Editorial 5th May, 2023   0

Consent, Loft Theatre, Leamington

THE TWISTS and turns of complex legal and moral argument are played out in unremitting close-up in Nina Raine’s Consent, with culpability, guilt, contrition and punishment all getting a comprehensive airing.

Whether the endless turns and interweavings as life imitates the cut-throat courtroom world, actually leave us any further on by the end is a moot point. We know the adversarial nature of our legal system fails many and traumatises more, but, while this play raises questions and sheds light, it steers decidedly clear of offering any glimpse of an alternative.

We’re firmly in London and the white middle-class for this highly intellectual debate and it’s a very small, very self-referencing world indeed; such a narrow focus that both Plymouth and Norwich crop up as comedy examples of what gauche, worthless places must lie outside it.

The characters are narrow too. In truth it would be hard to cut through the pretension, arrogance and avarice of this group to pick put a reason to feel any sympathy for the rollercoaster fate, and their own poor judgment, sends them on. Tellingly, the only person not from this world is unceremoniously sidelined at half-time.

The Loft’s design and staging are, as ever, up to scratch with atmospheric use of colour and music giving it all a good feel even if the positioning in the first half leaves anyone sitting to the left of the auditorium’s halfway line with at best an oblique view of the action.

For all the drama the play revolves around, precious little happens in plain sight. The alleged rape, the marital break-ups, the adultery and – worst of all – the descent to eventual suicide of the principal complainant, all happen off stage and, a brief scuffle aside, it’s mainly a play of sofas and talking.

That said, the cast of seven are collectively superb. There is not a single performance below excellent. Perhaps Dave Crossfield and Ruth Herd edge it for sheer quality and attention to detail, with Julie-Ann Dean producing a brace of faultless character portrayals, but everyone in director Tara L Lacey’s production is so completely on their game.

Late on in a play that weighs in slightly heavy on stage time, one character accuses another of employing intellectual origami. That term aptly sums up the whole; it’s an intricately folded collection of sharp edges which, though it looks impressive, has much less weight than you’d think.

Pleasingly staged and brilliantly acted it is, but the jury’s still out on whether that’s enough.

Consent plays at the Loft Theatre until Saturday May 13. Visit for full details.


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