Prima Facie (2022) ★★★★☆

Something has to change.

At what point will your blood boil? Sexual assault is neither a “light” nor “basic” matter and we cannot treat it as if it were. Suzie Miller’s 100-minute monologue is a vehicle in addressing shifting perspectives on the justice system. Protagonist, Tessa played by Jodie Comer, works as a Criminal Defence Barrister, a force in the “art” of cross-examinations – until an unexpected event forces her morals to change.

A one-woman show isn’t for everyone, but with the right actor, a gritty script and heaps of style, it works a treat. As far as recent theatrical monologues have proved, the output pours a little too much mediocracy into the West End…because they just don’t land. They don’t have something to say about the world, or about anything really – merely a heavily stylised piece suffocated by too much “movement”. This forensic piece however, hits hard and lands beyond the realms of the law. It’s brutal, in the most “perfect” form.

If the sadistic Villanelle wasn’t enough for you, cast your eyes on this for a character. We all wanted to know if she’s just as captivating on stage. And the answer is even more so. Comer’s versatility vocally puts her at the top of the line – her expressive capability is stunning, and we relish every second of it. From cocky barrister, to sufferer in her own right, we watch Tessa transition from the high-achieving criminal defence lawyer to a vulnerable woman stripped of her identity, and devastatingly so.

Its heartbeat-led, dark soundtrack composed by Self Esteem, hits the soul, crushes it and then brings it back to life, in the most bizarre fashion. It’s punchy, striking and hits every single chord of the narrative’s pain. From Tessa throwing the tables around, to standing on them, to being drenched in rain, it’s fitting to the high energy throughout.

The script is near enough flawless – it’s sharp and subtle, but the narrative slips a little by the second act – by no fault of the performance, but in lacking the same energy that the first half told so well. Comer’s performance compensates for this so well. It strikes as of the most important plays of the year, in balancing the shifting perspectives of rape and justice so well, intertwining the pain and energy all at once. From the highs, the lows to wounds of the heart every woman feels once pained into this harrowing situation.

Jodie Comer’s killing Eve it in Prima Facie – its sobering effect offers emotional clarity through style and a certain perspective on the justice system – my god, awards will land. See her live, it’s a once in a lifetime energy trip that you’ll crave in your system again.

Prima Facie will stream in selected cinemas as part of NT Live on 21st July.

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