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By Dave Massey twitter.com/BrumHour
Please note this production contains misogyny, strong language and graphic details of rape.
Asking For It at
Directed by Louise O’Neill adapted by Meadhbh McHugh with Annabelle Comyn
At two hours and fifty-five minutes including interval, Asking for It is a lengthy production exploring sexual consent, social media’s role in abuse and how victims are still doubted with solid photographic evidence.
On a night out celebrating the win of a local football team, schoolgirl Emma finds herself being raped by the local football team captain. His mates turn up and gang rape Emma posting photos on Snapchat and Facebook. The first half of this stark play is the lead up to these shocking events while the second half deals with the aftermath and the impact on Emma, her family and in turn the small Irish town she lives in.
I normally avoid reading anything about a stage show before seeing it but I’d read the synopsis about the story before seeing it. Even so, I was still shocked to see this was about 17 and 18-year-olds (in school jumpers) as its tackles such challenging content.
Strangely, the girls all seem to take layers of their clothing off at some point while the men don’t. The reflective stage floor almost upskirts the girls, adding to this feeling of discomfort.
Lauren Coe as Emma is the only character we see throughout, the first half she is loud and gobby and after the rape understandably is shut down and fairly broken. The main rapist is at first on the second level of the stage bathed in light to show how revered he is by the community as a footballer.
Without seemingly using microphones there were moments where I missed some of the dialogue, the characters all have Irish accents and I needed to concentrate more than usual to tune in with the accents.
The production uses club music, projection and sound to convey its emotions with a set that reflects both upwards from the stage itself and from the frame at the rear. the set is a series of boxes and walls that switch from a club setting to a home.
I don’t feel this is a show designed to be “enjoyed” it delivers a shocking narrative with devastating consequences. There were moments within the family scenes where I really related to them more so than I have in other productions. After being quite reluctant to see this production due to the subject matter, ultimately I felt I’d made the right decision by seeing it.
Loud, thought-provoking and shocking in parts, Asking For It is at Birmingham Rep until 15th February. Book tickets here: birmingham-rep.co.uk/whats-on/asking-for-it.html
This isn’t a sponsored post.
When not writing about theatre for BrumHour, or producing Interval Theatre for Brum Radio (Tuesdays 3pm) brumradio.com/intervaltheatre, Dave Massey can be found eating crisps and tweeting about Birmingham for #BrumHour.