Fabric @ New Wimbledon Studio

Performed at the New Wimbledon Studio, Abi Zakarian’s play Fabric aims to bring to light the devastating affects rape has on individuals and the way they are treated by those around them. This one-woman show powerfully portrays these harrowing experiences by looking at how society’s obsession with victim-blaming affects individuals.

Leah (Nancy Sullivan) is a 30 something struggling to come to terms with the damaged relationship between her and her friends, family and partner. She talks about the day they first met, the time he introduced her to his mother, who didn’t seem to approve of their relationship. As she tells her story, he is painted in a questionable light, from the way he speaks to her, to their wedding night. In the end, Leah recounts the traumatic night of her rape in a nightclub, and her attacker is someone known to her and her friends.

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Photo: Pamela Raith

Sullivan is brilliant as Leah, effortlessly keeping the audience engaged throughout the show. She draws listeners into her story through her enthusiasm and excitement of recounting her meeting her husband for the first time. The change from the fun-loving and confident Leah to the one looking back and recounting the night of the attack is distressing to watch, especially as Zakarian’s writing is so powerful and visceral. Sullivan performs this exceptionally with her touching and emotional physicality, bringing to the stage the agony of the chilling attack. With Tom O’Brien’s direction, the attack feels very real, taking over Leah’s body, and immersing the audience in her pain. During the middle of the play, the action does draw out slightly and it loses its energy and pace, but Sullivan manages to pick it up once again in the final part of the play.

Fabric draws attention to the way society blames victims for their own rape. As Leah looks back at her attack, forced to relive every moment when repeating it to authorities, to friends and family, it becomes clear that her intoxication on the night, her own sexual encounters, play a part in the way she is perceived by her friends. Those who know her attacker do not believe he is the type of person to commit such a disturbing crime, and Zakarian draws on his appearance and wealth to portray this. In light of the current Standford case, the play is poignant and necessary to highlight the injustices received by rape survivors, and is worth catching it while it is on tour. 

Fabric is currently on tour: The Hawth, Crawly on 20th July; Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury on 21st & 22nd July; Iron Belly, Edinburgh between 6th – 28th August.

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