Reviewed – 13th September 2018
“Nancy Sullivan delivers Leah with warmth and an immediate likeability”
“I’m revolting,” Leah says, opening the play. Her and her husband, Ben Cavendish, meet when he comes in for a suit and she, in the words of her disapproving mother in law, “serves” him. On the third date he calls her “potential wife material” and sure enough, soon Leah is picking out dresses and planning her wedding. But this is not the narrative of a happy marriage. It is a story about sexual assault, within and later, outside of marriage, how rape is justified by its perpetrators, and the failures of an unbelieving judicial system.
Within this, the show also comments on the roles women are expected to play in society, the trajectory women’s lives are supposed to follow and the confusion that disillusionment brings. Clothing, as the title suggests, weaves a strong motif throughout the show, a reflection of the societal and judicial obsession with the clothing worn by someone who has been raped. Class is also underlying in Leah’s depictions of her mother in law and of Ben.
Abi Zakarian is a beautiful writer, leading us from light to dark with ease. The accounts of rape have such an impact that they are difficult to focus beyond – we leave the theatre still reeling – although the foreboding answer machine messages that pepper the play feel a little unnecessary.
Nancy Sullivan delivers Leah with warmth and an immediate likeability, giggling away, genuine and familiar. Her journey across the play, and the horrific and graphic accounts of rape, are incredibly moving and impactful, an unflinching performance from a very impressive performer.
Anna Reid’s set is scattered pieces of furniture, chairs mainly, which connote different spaces across the narrative, a visual map of Leah’s story, though I’m not sure how much they add.
This is a topical, and vital piece of theatre delivered by a clear talent, that discusses rape as well as the society that so often justifies and perpetuates it.
Reviewed by Amelia Brown
Photography by The Other Richard
Soho Theatre until 22nd September