BY CARMEN ANDERSON
Directed by Daniel Strain-Webber, from October 11th – 15th Trafalgar Theatre Group will be presenting Consent by Nina Raine.
This thought-provoking play follows a group of lawyers living and working in London; they mainly represent rape victims or defend rapists, and as the title suggests, the main theme of the play is consent.
“The first half of the play is about the characters as a group of people, being friends, interreacting with each other; there is a main legal case that one of the characters is defending and one of the characters is prosecuting. There’s a substantial element of sexual politics going on between the group of friends. Then, many of the themes that are represented within the first half, are echoed in the second half,” Daniel Strain-Webber told The Gibraltar Magazine.
Cast member, Erica McGrail, expanded, adding; “The play explores consent from a legalistic point of view, but it also delves deep into marital relationships, and questions what consent means in a relationship. You can see themes of marriage, love and infidelity.” Daniel went on to explain that it is a difficult play to describe in a nutshell; “It is one of those plays where you have to watch to discover it.”
“It is one of those plays where you have to watch to discover it.”
A fan of Nina Raine’s writing, Consent is one of her standout works for Daniel. “One of the main reasons I chose this play in particular is because I’m a fan of Nina Raine. When I’m looking for plays, I’ll read ones by playwrights that I’ve read before or directed before, and I’d read Consent a while ago and loved it; it’s challenging for the actors, and also for me as a director.”
Anyone involved in drama will know how important it is to affect an audience – this is Daniel’s main aim with Consent. “With any play I do, it’s about the audience. If you’re putting on a comedy you want to see an audience laugh, if you’re putting on a drama you want to see the audience completely invested in it, so for me, the main aim of the play is to move the audience. I want the audience to leave the theatre and discuss their experience. I think a lot of people will have strong opinions as to what’s actually happened within this play and I want them to discuss this, and to discuss the issue of consent as a whole.”
This isn’t the first time that Daniel has directed a play during the pandemic. In October of 2020, Daniel directed You Stupid Darkness! at the Alameda Open Air Theatre. Covid-19 presented numerous issues during this period; however, Daniel feels the process has been slightly easier this time around; “I think we’re at a place now where, in Gibraltar at least, we are getting on with our lives. Theatre can now take place, albeit with a couple of restrictions, but it is much easier compared to last year with the play we staged, as there were a lot more restrictions then that we had to navigate,” he explained.
Daniel had tried to stage a number of other plays during the pandemic, however lockdowns and further restrictions stopped these from going ahead. At the moment Daniel is optimistic that Consent will be staged: “We don’t know what the future holds, but I think we’ve got to a point now where we are going to be able to stage this play. We’ve got a really committed group of actors, we’ve done quite a lot of experimentation with the script and in terms of the process in general, it’s going really well.”
Member of the cast, Harriet Seed, explained how strange it has seemed to not perform during the Covid-19 outbreak, as she usually performs in two plays per year. She said, “I haven’t acted in a play for two years, so I am definitely excited to get back on stage! It’s been a strange year, but I am so happy that theatre is coming back.” Erica McGrail added to this, saying, “I really hope that it goes ahead! The last play that I almost performed in was for the drama festival two years ago and at the last minute, it was cancelled. This is the first time that I return to the stage since our first lockdown, and I am really excited!”
For me, the main aim of the play is to move the audience.
Erica went on to explain some of the challenges that crop up with her role, and her aim with her performance; “It’s a very challenging role. There is a lot of comedy injected into the play, but it’s quite dark. There are some challenging scenes which are physically and mentally draining, but I love a bit of drama! I love being pushed and luckily, I am very fortunate to be cast in roles that push me, and with this one it is more the mental and emotional stress that the character undergoes. I would like to achieve a truthful performance; I want the audience to leave reflecting, questioning, and thinking.”
Fellow cast member, Sean Byrne also recounted some of the challenges he has experienced; “This is very different from the two other plays I’ve performed in. It’s more conversational and there are more people on stage at once, so a personal challenge is to be able to be react to multiple conversations going on; this has been quite difficult for me, but it’s a great learning curve.”
This powerful play is set to challenge the audience as much as it has challenged the players and their director.
Tickets are available at buytickets.gi.