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The Albany

You Heard Me
3.0Reviewer's Rating

One woman pulls off an energetic explosion of anger in this fifty minutes piece of performance art about sexual violence. The first words we hear are warnings about its graphic content, flashing lights and loud noises. This is followed by Billie Holiday singing, soothing us to give us time ‘to reflect’. And reflect we must, when see what happened to her.

Her pre-recorded voice-over runs through the events of the violent attack made on her in 2019. She was confronted while out jogging one afternoon, tried to escape by running up a ramp where her assailant trapped her. She knows what she should do, kick him in the groin, poke his eyes, karate chop his Adam’s apple, but attacks are messy and unplanned.

The momentum and its build up is driven by the underlying sounds of a pumping heartbeat, often accelerating into the noise of a train bolting along. It starts on a Tuesday, she says. At first, the woman dances vigorously bouncing across the stage, she blows up a big cerise bed catching the air inside which she constantly crashes into throughout the play. This and following acts  – of dressing and undressing, running up and down steps, falling back again and again, movements of trying to get away –  are repeated in a loop to reflect the constant reminders, the continually replaying of the event indicating post-traumatic stress. Set against a minimal stage, Rutherford’s vitality pushes the action along, using rock music, confetti and a few props.

It was her screaming which saved her as a man came to rescue her. ‘Scream is Power’, she says. She will not stay silent, but nor will she say the name of her attacker, as it would give him recognition. She tells us what we need to know – he was caught him and sentenced to 17 years.

Luca Rutherford gives a heart-felt performance and makes us listen. People say to her, it should not have happened when she was out jogging  – and in the afternoon –  in daylight – as though rape is acceptable at other times. Would it be OK at night, she asks? This is her story of that one experience dedicated to anyone who has been afraid to walk home or told to shut up.

While this is an admirable piece, it might have worked better if it was buttressed by a couple of other scenes of sexual assault of different types (say date rape and coercion) to push the questions she asks about rape and society’s degrees of toleration.

  • Physical Theatre
  • Writer: Performer: Producer: Luca Rutherford
  • Director: Maria Crocker: Movement Direction: Steph McMann
  • Dramaturg: Tanuja Amarasuriya
  • Music: Melanie Wilson
  • Cast: Luca Rutherford
  • The Albany
  • one off performance
  • 19.30

About The Author

Reviewer (London/UK)

Julie Peakman is a historian and Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. She is a frequent contributor to journals, magazines, and television documentaries on history, culture, sex, and feminism. She started life in the theatre as an actress and is currently writing her next book (‘Love and Lusts in London’) while working as a librettist developing her books for the theatre.

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