Courting controversy

20 April 2017 | by Mark Lawson

National theatre, London


Although three of the main characters are barristers and a fourth is an actor playing a QC on TV, only two of the 15 scenes in Nina Raine’s new play take place at court. This is a legal drama about the way in which lawyers take their work home and their homes to work.

Intense, self-confident Ed and looser, insecure Tim are respectively prosecuting and defending a rape trial. But their judicial jousting over the relevance of the alleged victim’s drinking habits and prior sex life does not affect a long friendship; we first meet them during a boozy evening, hosted by Ed and wife Kitty, where the guests are another top High Court couple.

Raine’s earlier play, Tribes, memorably caught the violent, comic speech of family life, and the dialogue of Consent is just as impressive in presenting prosperous professionals unwinding over wine. Provocatively describing their latest cases as if they were the defendants (“I’ve been raping pensioners”), they turn gruesome murders into amusing anecdotes, gilded with imitations of the killer’s regional accent.

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