Andy Paterson / Salt 'n' Sauce Promotions
New Town Theatre
It is generally recognised that in the past there was a failure to protect children from abuse by powerful public figures. Many of the victims argue that there continues to be a failure in bringing these public figures to justice.
Andy Paterson’s play Sex Offence suggests those who are guilty of such terrible crimes are still in too strong a position in society to be touched.
He gives us Home Secretary Archie Cornwall (Andy Paterson), a politician who is introducing a parliamentary bill that will mean mandatory life sentences for even first-time offenders of child abuse.
One evening while he is making unprincipled deals on the phone, he is visited by the former BBC journalist Fiona Myles, his one-time lover (Rachel Ogilvy).
She has evidence that in the past he abused children at the Brightside Children’s home. What’s more, she has placed in hiding a man who used to procure children for Cornwall.
She claims to be disgusted by his crimes and his hypocrisy but she also has her own sinister motives for visiting him.
The scene is set for a contemporary mystery thriller that illustrates the cynicism and corruption of the establishment. But it never really takes off.
The plot seems obvious, and the characters difficult to believe. Fiona Miles spends most of the play simply revealing to Cornwall what he has done, while Cornwall offers her drinks in between telling her to leave, making menacing threats and saying how powerful he is.
The dialogue is unconvincing, and at times seems very unlikely. The journalist tells Cornwall that she is “the bomb under your feet, your worst nightmare.”
He warns her that “if I thought you had something new I could have you Jill Dandoed" or arrange a suicide like David Kelly.
What might have been a serious exploration of a burning social issue instead turns out to be a slight mystery story with cardboard characters.
Reviewer: Keith Mckenna