Jane Doe

theatre review | Read in About 2 minutes
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Jane Doe
Published 09 Aug 2017

"Jane Doe" is at a high school in California. Or in Wales. Or in Australia. She’s 14, 16 or 22. She’s been raped at a party.

Via a carefully put together patchwork of public court transcripts (read out by audience volunteers), text messages used as evidence, media coverage of trials and video interviews with women from around the world, Zanetti Productions exposes the manifold layers of rape culture.

Eleanor Bishop’s Jane Doe—which she also directs—starts gradually, with the default objectification of women in romantic comedies. It builds up to a damning portrait of a culture where the sexual intimidation and abuse of women is the daily norm, at every level and in every way.

The barrage of media-reported (and perpetuated) victim-shaming language used in coverage of rape trials—and commentators’ consistent focus on the perpetrator’s "suffering" in the face of prison—is shameful in its density.

A one-person show, it is performed with empathy and kindness by Karin McCracken, who checks in with us at regular intervals. She watches with us as text messages (used as evidence in real-life cases) between teenage boys joking about having sex with drunk girls are projected on-stage.

Jane Doe delivers its message strongly and effectively, comprehensively deconstructing insidious assumptions and prejudices. However, if you are already attuned to these issues, to the ease with which female consent is systemically trivialised, it will simply reinforce that. The real test of its value will be if it can reach and preach to those not already converted.