In this blog, our colleague Claire writes her impressions of a new theatre play which deals with topics of gender-based violence and justice.
Last autumn, I took a trip to the cinema to watch the much-anticipated theatre play Prima Facie. Written by Suzie Miller and starring Jodie Comer (known for her main roles in Killing Eve and Help), the story begins with a successful female lawyer who is tasked with defending clients that could be guilty of their crimes, including sexual assault and rape.
With the help of a formidable solo performance by Comer, the play delves into gender inequality in the workplace, survivor’s experiences of rape and the criminal justice system. However, where Prima Facie shines is in its sensitive exploration of the complexities of sexual violence. Particularly that this form of abuse most typically happens at the hands of someone known to the survivor – usually a current or ex-partner. Most importantly, it gives a vivid and personal account of what the statistics only tell us in numbers. For instance, that between 2021 and 2022 there were 2,498 instances of rape reported to Police Scotland, but only 6% of those charges were brought against the perpetrator.
The performance, script, stage design and music are flawless, they tell a story that is not only heart-breaking but unfortunately a common scenario for 1 in 4 women in the world. Many survivors don’t report sexual violence and it is no wonder – for many, the cost can be too high when the possibility of justice comes hand-in-hand with societal scrutiny and judgment, intrusive interrogation, and a conviction rate so low that it can feel hopeless for many survivors.
Everyone should see this play; everyone should understand that the system we have now is not fit for purpose. It is not bringing justice to women, and it is not deterring men from abusing. However, I see hope in this play, in spreading awareness through art, activism and political discussion. It leaves us with a message – that by standing together against injustice and in solidarity with survivors we can collectively work towards creating a safer and more equal society for everyone.