Nina Raine on Consent
My first play, Rabbit, was about young professionals and when it came to writing Consent, I thought I’d really like to see where these kind of people are at, now that their marriages are beginning to have a bit of wear and tear and they have young children in their lives. Or they don’t, and they yearn for them. I felt that there’s something about children that makes people incredibly vengeful, very greek (tragedy). It was interesting for me to combine this with the legal world. I could imagine writing a world of these now slightly older professional people who were rather like the characters in Rabbit, which would include barristers. I always love little fragments of life that can then expand into a whole scene – so even just a sharp comment that you might witness between a husband and wife at a dinner party can be the seed of a whole invented scene. My inspiration came from this, and partly the court case that I walked in to which opened a door for me with this play.
Post Weinstein, in the era of #MeToo, and I Believe Her, this play certainly has an extra vibration humming through it. I wouldn’t say it’s completely on message which I’m pleased about because I don’t think a play should just be a cheerleader for things. I think it should air issues, not tie them up neatly with a bow
Consent is relevant to #MeToo in that there’s a rape victim in the play that really doesn’t get a fair hearing and she gets spat out of the justice system. Justice is not done. The thing that really shocked and surprised me when researching the play was the fact that in a rape trial the victim does not have a lawyer allocated to him or her. So a barrister is prosecuting the rapist, he is not defending the victim – so there’s no one to actually stand up and defend the victim. If you’re lucky the prosecuting barrister may re-examine your evidence to try and make you look a bit better, if it serves his case or her case. That lack of formal defence for the victim really quite amazed me.
I’ve never had a play be so overtly of the moment I think. I hate the idea of writing a Brexit play; kind of immediately, instantly responding. It takes me so long to write a play. Normally I just get very involved in an idea and I brew it for years, which means it can’t possibly respond to current events, but in this case the timing has just worked. It’s like a wine that I’ve had in the cellar and it came out at just the right moment that it was ripe.
Photo of Nina Raine by Johan Persson