Thursday, 8 October 2015

Review: Consensual at the Ambassadors Theatre (NYT's West End REP Season)

Ambassadors Theatre / NYT's 2015 West End REP Season
Reviewed on Wednesday 7th October 2015

Evan Placey's new play, which runs as part of the National Youth Theatre’s 2015 West End REP Season, delves into the complex world of consent. Also touching upon sexting and the sexual pressures teenagers face in 2015, Consensual realistically presents some hugely relevant issues which are often covered two dimensionally in mainstream media.

The main storyline shines the spotlight on a teacher (Diane, played by Lauren Lyle) and her former student (Freddie, played by Oscar Porter-Brentford) as they meet up for the first time in six years. Details of what happened previously are unclear; it is suggested that Freddie, who was fifteen at the time, may have taken advantage of Diane but it is also implied that Freddie may have been groomed. 

With memories blurred and emotions reaching breaking point, Consensual is so compellingly powerful because neither Diane nor Freddie is portrayed as a victim. They are two flawed characters who have both found themselves in an incredibly uncomfortable situation. We learn about their personal lives and their individual circumstances.

As an audience member, the first act is a sometimes tough watch; slowly the jigsaw begins to come together but there are never enough pieces.

I didn't realise how gripped I had become until the curtain rose for the second act and it became apparent that we were about to witness what actually happened on the night Freddie visited Diane's flat six years previously. The second act is a spectacularly intense two-hander which answers some questions, but raises even more. Consent is far from straightforward. 

Consensual raises moral dilemma after moral dilemma - it provides an almighty thought-provoking theatrical experience. The act one subplots are equally as interesting, particularly the teacher/pupil classroom dynamic; the students are as disruptive as they like but the second their teacher puts a foot wrong and snatches a phone out of a girl’s hand the teenagers unite and threaten to report their teacher for assault. I’m sure this kind of scenario arises in classrooms every single day and, again, there is no clear victim – this is not a good versus evil scenario.

It is brilliant to see a play bravely tackling such relevant themes and issues. I hope as many young people, teachers and guardians as possible have the chance to see Consensual; it is staggeringly eye opening. Pia Furtado's production is unapologetic and in your face, with the leading actors proving to be forces of nature. Consensual is a play worth getting exciting about.

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Consensual runs in REP with Wuthering Heights and The Merchant of Venice as part of the National Youth Theatre's 2015 West End season at the Ambassadors Theatre until December 2015. Please visit for further information, performance dates and tickets.

Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks 

No comments:

Post a Comment