This innovative piece by Cut The Chord Theatre is a fresh perspective on sexual violence, consent and how to open conversations that empower both men and women. We are introduced to the protagonists, played by writer Theo Toksvig-Stewart and co-star Maddie Gray, as they meet on their first day of University. Sparks fly, connections are made, and over the coming months they enjoy a committed relationship involving meeting parents, shared friendships and a deep love, respect and intimacy. All seems well, until one drunken evening, as they have a hundred times before, he initiates sex. Only this time, she says no – and he doesn’t stop.
It smashes all stereotypes about rape and sexual violence
Endless Second refers to her mindset as he rapes her, a second that feels like a minute, that feels like an hour, like a day, infinite, like it’s forever. What’s so special about this performance is that (a) it’s by a male writer; (b) it’s narrated from his perspective as well as hers which is incredibly rare; and (c) it features a breach of consent within a loving relationship. It smashes all stereotypes about rape and sexual violence, and is particularly relevant in the aftermath of the #metoo movement. Directed by Camilla Gürtler, Endless Second is a lesson in accountability; of how to open conversations about consent which allow both men and women to fully understand and respect each other.
The show challenges the preconceptions of the ‘nice guy’ - as Gray indignantly attests that ‘nice is the bear minimum of what you should be’. Respect is the measure of the standards we set for ourselves, and this is a message captured beautifully, profoundly and poignantly in this performance.
The techniques utilised in Endless Second are very clever. Both protagonists narrate the entire show from their own perspectives, which risks being annoying if done badly. Fortunately, Toksvig-Stewart and Gray execute this exceptionally, and as their pace and tempo changes throughout, adapting to the tone of what’s happening for the actors, it heightens the experience for the audience. We want to believe they can make it through this journey, but equally we understand that something so irretrievably awful has happened that it doesn’t seem possible. And that’s where the lightbulb moment hits. Love doesn’t conquer all. Sometimes you can break something so badly that only full accountability can even begin to extricate you from it.