Stacy review: the play Durham needs to see
A beautifully directed uncompromising take on the impacts of rape makes Stacy a unique experience
Stacy is an unflinching nosedive into the mind of Rob, a distraught twenty-something who has to come to terms with his decision to sexually assault his girlfriend's housemate. Alice Chamber’s intensely personal take on a challenging play ensures that the audience are left unsettled.
John Broadhead wants the audience to know that Rob is anguished. He is constantly fidgeting and marauding around an unmade bed which made up the stylishly scruffy set: It was perfectly designed to compliment Broadhead’s performance reflecting his character's deteriorating mental state.
Broadhead fully understood his character’s torment, easily slipping into the mind of a at times desperate, and at times traumatised rapist. Whilst his rushed line delivery reflected this psychological agony, it meant that he could not build up to the moments where Rob was completely overcome with panic. He demands a lot from his audience, but he is ( just about) able to do this with the play’s distressing subject matter.
Alice Chamber’s direction is brilliantly astute. It does not show away from the horror of Rob’s crime: the use of a projector screen to display pornographic images alongside the faces of other characters successfully aides in the creation of the world that Rob inhabits forcing the audience to, sometimes uncomfortably, come to face to face with Rob's actions. Fourth wall breaking interactions with a member of the production team brought the audience even further into his story and blurred the line between fiction and reality.
However, there were awkward moments where Broadhead interacted with pre-recorded voices. These were poorly timed meaning some moments did not hit their intended mark meaning that Rob's desperation felt forced. Fortunately, this did not detract from the stark force of Broadhead’s performance who masterfully played around the technical issues.
The most important reason to see Stacy is neither the direction nor the acting. It is the fact that it is being put on here at Durham, where there were 46 incidents of sexual harassment from June to September 2018, according to the DSU’s Pincident campaign.
Sexual assault is something that we need to talk about. Stacy does this in an engaging and unflinching way.