Case Number, from young London-based theatre company Tea and Toast productions, seeks to raise awareness about the shockingly low number of rapists that are convicted through the UK legal system, as well as the dehumanising effect the legal process has on victims.
Currently, Case Number is a highly sensationalised and unlikely courtroom drama.
Jenna Russell, a university student who dances in a club to pay her way through school and support her mother, has been raped by one of the customers of the club. Focusing mainly on the court case to convict Jenna’s rapist, Case Number also depicts the medical examination that victims are subjected to and includes flashbacks to elaborate on Jenna’s background and life.
Tea and Toast Productions have good intentions with Case Number, but rape is a topic that needs to be handled extremely carefully and sensitively on stage. Currently, Case Number is a highly sensationalised and unlikely courtroom drama. There are a lot of very important issues being addressed by Tea and Toast: the rape of sex workers, the credibility of sex workers in court, whether or not sex work can be feminist, as well as the stated aims of criticising the legal system and process. Unfortunately, in a production of only 45 minutes, none of these issues can be explored in depth or with nuance and instead we end up with a superficial melodrama.
There is a genuine attempt to symbolically portray both the number of women harmed in the legal system and the disassociating effect rape has on a victim, by having Jenna played by a variety of actresses over the course of the play. The medical examination Jenna is subjected to after her rape is genuinely distressing, but again, the doctors performing the examination are portrayed as ridiculously cold to unnecessarily ramp up the drama.
Human rights theatre is an honorable task and the young company should be commended for their attempt to confront a shocking statistic. However, as it stands, Case Number suffers from its overreaching and is unable to make any of its arguments convincingly.