The Interference

Wed 3rd – Tue 16th August 2016

reviews

Amy Mace

at 09:34 on 6th Aug 2016

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In this arresting collaboration between Pepperdine students and Irish playwright Lynda Radley, the conflicting perspectives surrounding rape and its allegation are shamelessly laid bare. Radley’s candid presentation of one rape’s collateral is not an easy watch; not least owing to the difficult subject matter. Its message, however, is resonant and affecting, making this an important piece of drama in which many audience members may see reflections of themselves, for better or worse.

The play’s opening is a slight assault on the senses for which one would do well to prepare. But its purpose becomes clear as the cast collaborates to reproduce the many-voiced speculation and ultimate exacerbation of an already delicate debate surrounding the college party rape of Karen Henshaw. In a moving performance by Alexandria Garrett, Karen’s voice resonates despite the many that make up the play. A number of emotive soliloquies allow her to sensitively vocalise the possible experience of female rape victims.

College and media ‘types’ provide the basis for Radley’s exploration of the elements of modern culture that implicate the execution and refutation of rape, which despite its US college setting, can easily be transferred overseas. The prejudice, blame and guilt that characterises the rape and those that comment upon is relevant cross culturally, and the obstacles Karen must face as she tries to tell her story prompt a consideration of the way in which such cases are discussed and distorted on public and supposedly responsible platforms. The morality of the characters and the solutions to the issues raised aren't always obvious or welcome: be ready to think (and think again) about them.

The frankness of Radley’s handling of rape may be too much for some, with the occasionally brash delivery of moralising lines coming off a little contrived or disingenuous. This may be down to script, as Radley attempts to cover as much moral and ethical ground as possible during the play’s run time. It thus felt at times like a lecture on the subject rather than a piece of drama, with the writer’s moral purpose thinly veiled by her characters. Yet this is not to the piece’s detriment. The result is an educational and provocative ninety minutes that highlights the debilitating and often unconsidered aftermath of an all too taboo subject, which threatens to stifle the crime itself.

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Ruby Gilding

at 10:37 on 6th Aug 2016

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The Edinburgh Fringe has established itself on the quality of its standup and storytelling, but the world premiere of 'The Interference' demonstrates a latent commitment to serious, impactful drama. The Fringe First winner Lynda Radley brings us her new play, an exploration of the dangerous rape culture myths that society holds in order to feel safe. The show emerged from a biannual collaboration between students at Pepperdine University (USA) and a Scottish playwright in what is evidently a rewarding cultural exchange. Radley’s original script was workshopped with the large cast of students to produce a play that is tight, poised and hard hitting.

Pepperdine Scotland dramatize the aftermath of a university student’s rape by a fellow sports star in a thoughtful production that managed to avoid simplicity. Instead, it was a nuanced portrayal of the unsettling frenzy triggered by one woman’s decision to speak out. The use of the cast as an ensemble successfully conveys the deluge of public opinion surrounding the victim Carrie. This is heightened by overlapping dialogue which expertly creates an audio-visual overload on the audience. The manipulation of sound is a particular asset to the show, especially when white noise blanked out the names of individuals and places. The decision to free the series of events of details facilitates the performance to represent part of a universal crisis; an approach which is informed by the company’s work in association with Rape Crisis charities.

'The Interference' draws on recent cases of sexual violence in sports both in America and Scotland. Radley’s intelligent dialogue shows the striking similarity between the lexicons of sport and rape culture. The smiling, gaudily suited sports journalists Tom and Jerry commentate on the internal monologue of the victim using the familiar language of a live game. The reverberations felt by their unnerving refrain “stay tuned for more scenes from” echo powerfully throughout this unfolding narrative.

At times Radley’s writing exhibits a dark humour, such as the irony of advice to take a self-defence class which threw the seriousness of misconceptions about rape into relief. The crossover of the spheres of sport and justice focuses on the adulation of the perpetrator, protected by the estimation of the community for his soccer quarterback status. Remarkably, the attacker is never shown nor his voice heard and as the show perceptively states, “she has to tell the story, he has only had to review it”. The distortion of reality extends until it is the victim that appears on trial, and overwhelmed by the disbelief of the forces that should protect her.

Despite the play’s density the performance flows from scenes in a sports reporter’s studio to the chatrooms of social media with a cohesiveness that draws from the supple movements of the actors. Moreover, there is an astonishing subtlety to the language of the play; the complexity of the dialogue is offset by a rhythmic delivery. As a plethora of voices crowd inwards this production does not lose sight of its central message. Because of this Pepperdine Scotland has brought to the Fringe a play that adeptly addresses a difficult topic with a grace and thoughtfulness which is exceptional.

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