BWW Review: THE INTERFERENCE at Matrix Theatre Company Authentically Represents the Aftermath of Sexual Assault
Want to see one of the most culturally significant and powerful plays of our time? Head on over to Matrix Theatre Company in Detroit before April 14th to see The Interference, written by Lynda Radley. After premiering in 2016, The Interference has made its way to Detroit at a time where sexual assault, particularly institutionalized rape culture, has creeped its way into everyday conversations and news stories.
The Interference surrounds college student Karen Henshaw, played expertly by Danielle Peck in her Matrix Theatre Company debut. As a college student who was recently raped by the popular quarterback at her college, we first see Karen as she struggles to come clean about what happened to her. Once she does, we see how she deals with people who don't believe her. Sometimes she is forced to face them in person, sometimes she watches them talking about her on television, and sometimes she sees their cruel comments all over social media. The audience gets to see all of it, and though it's heartbreaking, it is ever-so-reminiscent of real life.
While watching The Interference, you can't help but think of recent news stories such as Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics protecting Larry Nassar, as well as Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's testimony about Brett Kavanaugh just before he was appointed to the Supreme Court. What is absolutely incredible about The Interference is that it perfectly nails what real-life institutionalized rape culture is all about: "What about his career? What if his life is ruined? What's going to happen to him?" Meanwhile, it seems like not as many people think about her career, whether her life is ruined, or what's going to happen to her. The poignancy of The Interference is that we get to see the repercussions of not believing women, or even simply not caring enough to believe women.
One of my favorite aspects of the show was the tiny size of the theatre itself. That noted, the intimacy of the venue fit the play incredibly well. You can see the anguish in the Karen's face as she is interrogated about what happened to her. You can see the naivety of the quarterback's teammates as they talk about their next game in lieu of talking about how their quarterback raped his innocent friend. You can actually read the social media comments as they're illuminated on the wall in front of you.
And yet, despite all of the above, what leaves you thinking about the show long after you leave the theatre is the play's ending. I won't spoil how it ends, but I will say that it's written to be open to interpretation. I feel like this is incredibly symbolic of how these cases always seem to end. Sure, Nassar is in prison now. But what's going to happen to the girls he harmed? What's been happening to Dr. Ford ever since she testified in front of the nation? Will her life ever go back to normal? The Interference begs similar questions: Will Karen's life ever return to normalcy? What's going to happen to her?
After curtain call, the creative team asked each audience member to tell five people to come see The Interference. That's how important this show is right now. It illuminates a common and extremely toxic problem that occurs when an institution prefers keeping its reputation to keeping people safe. Go see this show, share the other side of the story, and most importantly, believe sexual assault survivors the first time they speak up.
The Interference runs through April 14th at Matrix Theatre Company in the heart of Mexicantown in downtown Detroit. For more information and tickets, visit https://www.matrixtheatre.org/.
Connect with Matrix Theatre Company on Twitter at @MatrixTheatre, on Instagram at @matrixtheatre, and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/MatrixTheatreCompany.