With damning questions on moral and personal boundaries, Lines is a stunning and complex portrayal of sexual assault. Rora is violently raped after a night out with friends and two weeks pass before she can bear to discuss the crime with her family. As she unpicks events with a therapist, it becomes clear that blame for the assault lies beyond the man who raped her; others could have prevented it from happening. Directed and written by Arabella Warren, this drama asks difficult questions and forces the audience to recognise the reality of life after rape.
A shocking and challenging drama
In her role as Rora, Foxey Hardman is by far the standout performer of this production. Warren’s writing features a number of difficult conversations as Rora must relive the assault to her family and therapist. However, Hardman proves she is more than capable of such sensitivity in her performance. Her monologues are stunning as Rora tries to piece together a timeline from fragments of blurred memories. Though the other actors are also talented, I couldn’t see the reasoning behind seating them around the stage for the entirety of the performance as this seemed to substantially reduce their performance space.
Lines is cleverly structured to commence in a therapist’s office, and return to the night that Rora was assaulted. Thanks to this inventive chronology, the lasting impact of sexual assault can be understood in its full devastation. The play also rouses audiences to anger as Rora’s friends, in guilt for leaving her vulnerable, attempt to make excuses for what happened. In arguments all too often heard, they suggest that Rora simply regrets a consensual encounter and argue that she was to blame for drinking.
Video projections are effectively used to show different contexts of rape that can occur alongside Rora’s story. The website for Rainn, an anti-sexual violence organisation, becomes a powerful backdrop as the actors read personal accounts of others’ sexual assaults. This powerful scene was emotionally difficult to listen to, but forced to audience to acknowledge how frequently sexual assault occurs in such a wide range of forms.
Lines is a shocking and challenging drama that forces audiences to acknowledge the prevalence of sexual assault. Uncomfortable questions are asked.