Total Rating: 
June 6, 2017
June 8, 2017
Los Angeles
Rogue machine & Pepperdine Scotland
Theater Type: 
Met Theater
Theater Address: 
1089 North Oxford Street
Running Time: 
75 min
Lynda Radley
Cathy-Thomas Grant

Close on the heels of Actually, Anna Ziegler’s drama about campus date rape (which is still running at the Geffen), comes The Interference, a play on the same subject.

Now premiering at the 2017 Hollywood Fringe Festival (gaining in strength and importance every year, by the way), The Interference was written two years ago by Scottish playwright Lynda Radley while on a fellowship at Pepperdine, an L.A. university which has ties to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. In 2016, Pepperdine sent a dozen of its drama students to Edinburgh to perform in Radley’s play, which wound up winning a Scotsman Fringe First and being shortlisted for Amnesty International’s “Freedom of Expression” award.

Both Actually and The Interference explore the fate of a young college girl who goes to a wild party, gets blind drunk, goes to bed with a fellow student, and wakes up the next morning realizing that he has had sex with her without her expressed permission. Is it rape or not?

Actually explores the issue in a stripped-down, microcosmic kind of way: the play has only two characters, takes place on a bare stage (with two chairs as the only set pieces), and has a tight, restricted focus. The Interference works a much bigger canvas and cast of characters: a dozen in all, many of whom play multi-parts (lawyers, journalists, students, coaches, boosters, etc.).

The style of The Interference (the title puns on football terminology) is agit-prop: the actors, none of whom ever leaves the stage, speak directly to the audience in a rapid-fire chorus of voices and attitudes. While listening to all the arguments about sexual assault, the audience becomes a jury and is expected to take sides. Brecht would love this play.

The strength of the piece lies in the way it indicts so much of American society. The accused rapist is a campus hero, a quarterback with a golden arm, sure to make tens of millions of dollars when he turns pro. When he insists that the sex was consensual, most people buy his story, especially when the sports media beats the drums for him — and makes a villain out of the 19-year-old girl who has cried rape.

During the course of its 70-minute running time, The Interference shows just how difficult and perilous it is for a rape victim to go public with her story, especially when the accused is a celebrity, a star. The 19-year-old finds herself doing battle with the university establishment, the police, the press, the football team (with one rare exception), even her friends and father. The pressure on her is enormous; the girl cracks under it, is tragically destroyed by it.

The play is acted and directed brilliantly; the ensemble of youthful actors delivers Radley’s text in a clear, strong way and also impersonates a gallery of characters with assurance and skill. Director Grant has staged and choreographed in equally crisp and impressive fashion.

Chris Bozzini, William Craig, Addyson E.L. Culpepper, Dakota Dickerson, Mallory Erwin, Jacquelyn Ferguson, Alexander Garrett, Parker Johnson, Buddy Kennedy, Brittany King, Caroline Pitts, Brandon Ruiz
Set: Melanie Allen. Costumes: Melanie Watnick
Willard Manus
Date Reviewed: 
June 2017