Griffin Theatre Company’s original production of Suzie Miller’s Griffin Award-winning tour de force—which went on to inspire a sold-out West End season and upcoming Broadway season— makes its much-anticipated return.
Prima Facie is an indictment of the Australian legal system’s failure to provide reliable pathways to justice for women in rape, sexual assault or harassment cases. It’s a work of fiction, but one that could have been ripped from the headlines of any paper, any day of the week, so common you could cry. Sheridan Harbridge stars as Tessa—a criminal lawyer at the top of her game who knows the law permits no room for emotion.
To win, you just need to believe in the rules. And Tessa loves to win, even when defending clients accused of sexual assault. Her court-ordained duty trumps her feminism. But when she finds herself on the other side of the bar, Tessa is forced into the shadows of doubt she’s so ruthlessly cast over other women.
Turning Sydney’s courts of law into a different kind of stage, this taut, rapid-fire and gripping one-woman show by Suzie Miller (RBG: Of Many, One, Anna K, Sunset Strip) exposes the shortcomings of a patriarchal justice system where it’s her word against his.
Director, Lee Lewis says “Prima Facie is a new play to add to the chorus of voices in Australia today protesting that the current legal system is incapable of delivering safe pathways to justice for survivors of sexual harassment and sexual assault. It lays bare a process which re-traumatises, stigmatises, isolates and mostly silences these survivors. This play is an appeal for a new system. We have the capacity, just not the will for change. Why?”
Since the play has garnered massive global appeal with the award-winning West End production starring Jodie Comer set to play on Broadway whilst the original production tours Australia, writer, Suzie Miller reflected “I pondered the ideas around the play when I was first at law school, never dreaming they would one day be realised in the form of a theatrical play, and most certainly with no expectations that such a play would seek an audience in so many other countries. There is enormous relief that I was not alone in these thoughts, but above all a tremendous sadness that the themes of this play are still so relevant. Prima Facie and my original creative team occupy such an important and special place in my heart, not least because it stars the incredible talent of Sheridan Harbridge and is led by the strong, generous direction of Lee Lewis; but also, because that same team who took the risk with me in 2019 are the same people bringing Prima Facie to the stages of Australia in 2023.”
Prima Facie premiered at Griffin Theatre Company in 2019, wowing audiences and winning widespread critical acclaim, as well as a Sydney Theatre Award for Harbridge and multiple awards for Miller—including the 2020 David Williamson Award for Outstanding Theatre Writing. With the original Griffin dream team of director Lee Lewis (Gloria) and Sheridan Harbridge (The Beast), this one-woman powerhouse performance demands to be seen.
“Prima Facie gives a platform for a woman to speak her truth, asking us to look beyond first impressions and to dig deeper into the very structures and procedures that embed underlying injustices. This is an urgent and compelling work: one that should be as widely seen for its craft, just as much as its subject matter should be better understood by our politicians, lawmakers and general public. Run, don’t walk.” ★★★★★—Debbie Zhou, Time Out
“Suzie Miller’s monodrama is an extraordinary and visceral portrayal of one woman’s experience of the legal system … and it offers as uncompromising a cross-examination of the law as you’re likely to see on stage.”
★★★★★—Cameron Woodhead, The Age
Director: Lee Lewis
Designer: Renée Mulder
Lighting Designer: Trent Suidgeest
Composer & Sound Designer: Paul Charlier
Production Manager: Julia Orlando
Stage Manager: Katie Hankin
With Sheridan Harbridge
Venue, Dates & Times
Venue: paranaple arts centre
Dates: Thursday 13 April
Performance times: 7.30pm
Bookings: Phone 64202900 or visit www.paranapleartscentre.com.au
Running time: 90 minutes (no interval)
Warnings: Prima Facie contains mature themes, sexual references and descriptions of sexual violence.
Photo Credit: Brett Boardman