Endless Second (4 stars)

This article is from 2019

Endless Second

Male author enters the fray in a troubling production

Theo Toksvig-Stewart has crafted a subtle and nuanced script that aims straight towards controversy. In this two-hander, a man and a woman fall in love, and he displays the characteristics of the model liberal feminist ally: sensitive, great on feminist theory, outspoken on the aggressions of other men and completely incapable of taking responsibility for his own behaviour. That the production gives equal time to male and female experience, and depicts the man as a kindly, sympathetic protagonist only makes the stark reality of his behaviour all the more shocking.

Although the man argues for his innocence with the usual excuses, he has sex with the women without consent. His special pleading does not change the morality of sexual assault, and the rage felt by the woman is righteous and frustrated by his good guy persona. That he finally acknowledges that he raped her is a slow, hard-won victory, and the moral line of the script never wavers.

By placing sympathy on the perpetrator – at least for the first half of the show – the script becomes more forceful and refuses to allow liberal men any reasoning away of sexual abuse. It is no longer an alien action, performed by unreconstructed louts, but something enacted on women by liberal men. The specificity of their relationship, and the considerable charm of their romance, only heightens the horror.

Capably performed and directed with a vivacious energy, Endless Second is a bold production that demands self-analysis and provokes discomfort for the self-satisfied who mistake opinions for actions, or meaningful opposition to abuse of women.

Pleasance Courtyard, until 26 Aug, 3.10pm, £8 (£7).

Endless Second

  • 4 stars

A new play about a couple in love who need to re-evaluate their thoughts and assumptions on rape after a night gone wrong.