Walk of Shame

Stephanie Silver and Amelia Marshall Lovsey
Glass Half Full Theatre
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Walk of Shame

The Space UK makes a welcome return to online fringe production and; if Walk of Shame is any indication, the quality of the plays is as high as in the first season.

The thorny issue of sexual consent hangs over Stephanie Silver and Amelia Marshall Lovsey’s play. Being fed up with her boyfriend, Alice (Stephanie Silver) sets out to take revenge with a meaningless shag and isn’t too bothered about whom she seduces. Liam (Sam Landon) considers himself to be a good guy—he nursed his terminally ill mother and works hard for his high income. However, the macho world of finance has influenced his attitude towards women; and he considers it respectful to hold open a door for a woman and smack her arse as she passes. The attitudes of the characters make it seem that a meeting between them would be one made in Heaven but that turns out not to be the case.

Stephanie Silver and Amelia Marshall Lovsey’s script is staged as separate but overlapping monologues rather than a conversation, thereby allowing the characters’ horrifying attitudes to be delivered raw and uncensored. It is impossible to watch Walk of Shame without feeling uncomfortable as the authors skilfully draw out prejudices of which the viewer might prefer to be left unaware.

The script initially seems to reflect society’s low opinion of women who take charge of their sexuality and to be unsympathetic towards Alice, whose morals are so loose they are falling apart and who is willing to use her sexuality to cadge free drinks. Stephanie Silver’s performance, aggressive and in-yer-face, is so confrontational, it is hard to avoid the conclusion Alice can look after herself. Only the edge of desperation that occasionally flickers across Silver’s face gives an indication of the underlying forces that are pushing Alice forward. The closing image of Alice, traumatised and trying to come to terms with her shameful experience, is hard to forget.

Where the script really hits home, however, is on the issue of consent. For Liam, the issue is immaterial—he has treated Alice well, bought drinks and paid for taxis, and she was very clearly willing to have sex. The possibility Alice might change her mind is not one he is prepared to consider.

Director Michelle Payne uses fractured camerawork to reflect the confused state of mind of the characters. It makes for an edgy, discomforting atmosphere as the camera pushes suddenly towards Silver’s face or a piano on the soundtrack cuts out on the word ‘slut’. For Liam, the camerawork is more static, which makes Sam Landon’s performance even more disturbing. Soft-spoken in comparison with the brash approach taken by Silver and with puppy-dog eyes, Landon moves from seeming stunned at his own good fortune to a terrifying sense of entitlement with regard to women.

Walk of Shame is a disturbing play for all the right reasons.

Reviewer: David Cunningham