This is, quite simply, a bit different. It is a single-handed play. A one-woman performance on the stage at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London’s West End. During the run a performance was filmed and shown live in cinemas. It was also recorded and re-shown in cinemas up and down the country, I think I can justify reviewing it for RunPee. After all, you could have seen it in the cinema…I did!
Prima Facie is set in a barrister’s office with Jodie Comer playing the lead, well…only, part of Tessa Ensler. Tessa comes from a working class family in Merseyside. She earns a place in training as a lawyer. Despite finding herself in a class full of former public school pupils, who feel they have more right to be there than she does, she excels. Tessa becomes a top class criminal defence barrister who specialises in defending men accused of sexual assault.
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A Lawyer’s Job Is Not To Know
She knows which are the questions to ask the prosecution witness. Obviously, in these cases, the prosecution witnesses are the victims of the sexual assaults from which she is defending her clients. She has an advantage being a woman asking women difficult, personal questions. She can empathise with the victims and does her best to not humiliate them. But she still has to win. And win she does…consistently.
But then there is an incident. Tessa is sexually assaulted and finds herself on the other side of the court room. Obviously this changes her point of view with regard to how the legal system treats the victims of such attacks. It also shows how the pin sharp detail that is required for a successful prosecution is almost impossible to gather due to the traumatic nature and circumstances of the assault. Tessa forgets all the lessons she has learned and ends as much a victim as all of her previous opponents.
It’s To Not Know
Jodie Comer, is quite simply, brilliant. She runs the full gamut of emotions; confident young lawyer, happy daughter visiting home, celebrating after a successful case, and victim during and after the event. She captivates from start to finish. You may think that that is a given as she is the only one on the stage but, trust me, I’ve seen one man performances where the scenery has stolen the show. The hour and a half of the production simply flew by. It is not always an easy ride but it is an engaging and gripping one. I’d recommend it to anyone.
Ms Comer is most well known as the psychotic assassin Villanelle from Killing Eve but she has done far more than that and has a truly magnificent range. Prima Facie was her stage debut and it is outstanding. All this is even more amazing given that this is all down to natural talent; Jodie has had no formal training. But that hasn’t stopped her demonstrating her phenomenal range. I have lost count of the number of accents I’ve heard her speak in as well the emotions and characteristics she has displayed. She is, quite simply, wonderful.
Movie Grade: A+
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Former teacher, lecturer, homelessness administrator, pharmacy dispenser now happily retired, happily married, and a very happy granddad. I live next to the Mersey but on the side Daniel Craig and Taron Egerton come from rather than the side the Beatles came from!
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Dan Gardner Administrator
Wow, that looks powerful. I hope it streams sometime.
Rob Williams Administrator
It’s currently available through NT at Home on subscription but it will be opening on Broadway soon!
I was extremely lucky to get a ticket and see it live in London, Jodie was phenomenal. It’s coming to Broadway next month. Highly recommended and very thought provoking.