Sophia Forrest Compelling in Prima Facie

 

 

 

The true test of an actor’s ability can easily be judged by a successful solo stage performance.

It’s a make-or-break scenario. Going it alone is not for the timid and separates the gifted from the merely practised.

Solos are a proving ground some actors avoid completely, preferring the cues and prompts of fellow players to carry them to the final curtain.

Sophia Forrest’s powerful lone performance in Suzie Miller’s Prima Facie, now running at the Heath Ledger Theatre, is proof indeed that here is a skilled and compelling actor with a bright future.

 

 

Forrest breezed through the dialogue-rich, physically demanding drama with energy and intensity, conveying the fluctuating emotions, mood, tragedy and confronting subject matter with convincing style.

Forrest’s stage presence is confident and brimming with youthful enthusiasm, while also conveying nuanced maturity and finesse.

The actor, who went through a rigorous auditioning process for the Black Swan State Theatre Company role, has done it justice, excuse the pun.

 

 

Director Kate Champion’s close collaboration has helped hone the rapidly rising WA actor’s strength on stage. And Forrest nailed every line of the 90-minute play, no easy feat on opening night!

This Black Swan version of Prima Facie is the latest in an almost continuous showing of the award-winning play internationally. The unsettling subject matter resonates everywhere.

It shines a glaring light on subjects that have been very much in the news in recent times: sexual assault, rape, violence against women, and the often complex and grueling court cases endured by those who dare to fight the wrong forced upon them.

 

 

Considering the real-life statistic of one in three women having experienced some form of sexual assault, it is heavy stuff, and this play is arguably the rawest and most honest portrayal of its consequences out there today.

The story centres on a confident, talented criminal lawyer who specialises in defending those accused of sexual assault, but who is then assaulted herself.

“When a shocking turn of events shifts her to the other side of the witness stand, defence barrister Tessa must confront the lines where the patriarchal power of the law, burden of proof, and morals diverge,” say the production notes.

Thought-provoking themes include the fraught, very real situation where witnesses in sexual assault cases are required to provide accurate, yet deeply demeaning, evidence for a conviction to be secured.

 

 

As always, the Black Swan set design is impressive, stark, and minimalist, effectively concentrating audience attention on Forrest’s lines and actions.

Prima Facie premiered in Sydney in 2019 and has since been staged in London’s West End and New York’s Broadway, as well as productions in Turkey, Spain, Germany, Brazil, and Serbia.

There is now talk of a screen production in the works.

Champion’s seamless, creative interpretation of Miller’s legal tour de force, coupled with Forrest’s impressive elucidation of Tessa, has produced as good a version of this play as you will see anywhere.

Get out and see it. Timely and powerful, the play is an important reminder of the deplorable behaviour and flawed systems that continue to impact so many women worldwide.

Prima Facie runs until Sunday 21 July. For mor information or to book go to:  www.blackswantheatre.com.au

 

After the show: Andrew Forrest, Suzie Miller, Sophia Forrest, Nicola Forrest and Kate Champion

 

CAST Sophia Forrest WRITER Suzie Miller DIRECTOR Kate Champion SET DESIGNER Bruce McKinven SET REALISER Andy Cross COSTUME DESIGNER Lynn Ferguson LIGHTING DESIGNER Peter Young COMPOSER & SOUND DESIGNER Melanie Robinson AUDIO VISUAL DESIGNER Jessica Russell VOCAL COACH Jean Goodwin UNDERSTUDY Holly Easterbrook STAGE MANAGER Liam Murray ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER Hayley Neil

Production Images: Daniel J Grant

Social Image: Peter Rigby

 

 

 

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