29 November 2017
Timely turnaround: The flip side of sexual harassment
The Secondary Victim
Park Theatre, London
Events move so fast and theatre production so slowly that it is hard to stage topical drama. Sometimes, though, the news cycle and the repertoire blessedly coincide, as has happened with Matthew Campling’s The Secondary Victim. Opening at a time of almost hourly reports of professionals suspended or fired for sexual harassment or offensive tweets, the play involves a therapist who is accused by a former client of inappropriate language and touching during consultations.
What makes this unusual among the growing pile of literature about reputational threat is that the protagonist, Ali, is a middle-aged woman facing complaints from a young man, Hugo. The dramatist, a qualified therapist, must know that, in the majority of real instances, the genders and ages are reversed. So – even though Campling introduces the balance of a male client of Ali’s who has been accused of abusing schoolgirls – the play’s central situation can be seen as atypical.
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