In 2004, gonzo journalist David Holthouse wrote a newspaper article that told of his rape as a young boy at the hands of the teenage son of his parents’ friends. Years later his story was picked up by popular podcast series 'This American Life', and among its listeners was theatre director Markus Potter, who co-adapted and directs this production.
The structure is somewhat prosaic. David - played by Gerard McCarthy - relays his story in a series of flashbacks, including the chilling abuse scene which sees his tormenter wield a samurai sword to force his complicity.
As he grows older, David struggles to come to terms with the event and even while his journalism career flourishes, his torment festers, not helped by the fact he’s unable to tell his parents. So he resolves to settle the issue with a revenge killing, having tracked the movements of his one-time abuser over a considerable period (the walls are festooned with maps and cuttings).
There are some searing insights, such as David’s admission that one reason he keeps his abuse secret is to avoid appearing to be 'damaged goods'. And there are some impressive performances. McCarthy brings admirable poise to the central role, particularly in the final moments, while Mike Evans lends the titular abuser a sinister vulnerability as he tries to play the victim.
This is not the most theatrically innovative of evenings, with a lot of show and tell. But it’s an undoubtedly important and at times gut-wrenching testimony to the long-term impact of abuse. David’s ultimate revenge for his suffering was with ink rather than bullets, and he deserves huge respect for his courage in speaking out.
BY: THEO BOSANQUET