Rape is a four letter word. Yet for the survivors, it is much bigger than that. Often, rape victims are blamed and re-victimized by society. This makes many incidents go unreported. This is especially true on college campuses, where rape has become an epidemic and rapists have largely gone unpunished. This weighted topic is the subject of Stet, a new play by Kim Davies. Based on a true story, the Abingdon Theater Company tells this troubling phenomenon powerfully.
The play opens with Erika, a journalist, receiving orders from her boss to cover a story about rape on a college campus. Erika reluctantly agrees to take on the assignment. One of the first girls Erika meets is Ashley. Ashley alleges that she was gang raped while attending a frat party. She has not officially reported the rape because she is deathly afraid of the harrowing repercussions that will surely befall her if she does. Erika encourages Ashley to name her attackers, but to no avail. Meanwhile, we meet Christina, an on campus advocate for victims. Christina is jaded and often feels that she is doing the best for the victims, by helping them cope with their experience, which often means not reporting the rape. Erika grows increasingly frustrated by the attackers going unpunished (as we all do) until it becomes to much to bear.
The statistics of girls that claim to be raped while attending college is staggering. But what’s more bothersome is that most of these cases go unreported. And rapists are free to do it again. Jocelyn Kuritsky plays Erika. Her emotional involvement and attachment grows over the course of the play. She takes us on her journey from a strictly professional journalist to a woman deeply invested in wanting justice for the victims. Kuritsky is a fine actor with real acting chops. We feel her passion and frustration throughout.. Dee Julien plays Christina, and at first she is this bubbly Pollyanna type. But as the play progresses we understand her more and more. Julien does a fine job revealing the inner mechanisms of Christina at exactly the right times.
As much as I enjoyed the production, I would be remiss if this article didn’t address the bigger issue’ how are we going to stop this tragedy, that is all too common, from happening? This isn’t just some play you go see and forget it or chalk it up to a “night at the theater”. It’s a call to action. In fact, Abingdon is taking action by donating some of the proceeds from ticket sales to benefit “Take Back the Night”, a movement to stop college rape. When, as a society, are we going to stop blaming the victims for their attacks? We must make it more safe for victims to report rape and support them rather than villainize them. Maybe then they will come forward and justice can begin to be served.
If this article gets you stirred up (as it should) go see Stet. It will give you a new outlook on this problematic issue that is plaguing women on college campuses. This is a well done, meaningful production that is truly theater that matters!
Stet plays now through July 10 at Abingdon Theater Company, 312 W 36th St. www.abingdontheatre.org