Review: PRIMA FACIE at Pumphouse

What did our critic think of Prima Facie?

By: Jun. 20, 2024
Review: PRIMA FACIE at Pumphouse
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Content Warning: Prima Facie includes references to sexual assault.

"Prima Facie," penned by the acclaimed Oliver and Tony award winner Suzie Miller, is a gripping and confronting play that dives deep into the complexities of the legal system and sexual assault. Staged at the Pumphouse Theatre, this production, directed by Michael Hurst, is a masterclass in storytelling and performance, continuing the call to action that this story is demanding worldwide.

Cassandra Woodhouse stars as Tessa Ensler, a top criminal defense barrister who has clawed her way up from a working-class background to dominate the courtroom with her sharp intellect and quick wit. Woodhouse’s portrayal of Tessa is nothing short of captivating, keeping even my ADD brain fully engaged for the entire 90 minutes. 

The narrative follows Tessa’s journey as she passionately defends those pleading not guilty, including men accused of rape and sexual assault. Her belief in the principle of "innocent until proven guilty" is unwavering, seeing it as the cornerstone of human rights. However, an unexpected event forces Tessa to confront the very system she has dedicated her life to, revealing its inherent biases and the challenges faced by sexual assault survivors.

Michael Hurst’s direction ensures that the play’s heavy themes are expertly managed, bringing a sharp focus to Tessa's internal and external battles. The staging is both minimalist and effective, allowing the strength of the script and the power of Woodhouse’s performance to shine through. 

"Prima Facie" is a thought-provoking and emotional journey that challenges the audience to reflect on the patriarchal power structures and the burden of proof that often do not accommodate the lived experiences of sexual assault survivors.  Look to your left, look to your right – one in three women are sexually abused. This is cleverly tied to the one in three who do not make it past their first year at law school after being considered the creme de la creme of talent.

Look to your left, look to your right. 

This production is not just a play but a poignant commentary on justice and the complexities of human rights. Highly recommended for its compelling narrative and outstanding performance by Cassandra Woodhouse.

Recommended for audiences aged 15 years and above, parent or guardian advised.
Run Time: 1 hour, 30min with no interval
Strict lockout: no admittance once the performance has started.

Bookings here

Season runs til 22nd June - book now.


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