News: Based on seven true stories, ‘Penetration’ comes to The Cockpit Theatre

No one lies about rape. You either consent or you don’t, that’s absolutely clear. But what about when memories aren’t as clear? The world premiere of Penetration by Carolyn Lloyd-Davies, a sensitive piece inspired by seven true stories of accusations and acquittals from 2014 to 2019, comes to The Cockpit this autumn.

When Sean is accused of rape by Anna, his arrest throws his world into turmoil. His mother Felicity, a lifelong feminist, knows women don’t lie about rape just as surely as she knows her son is innocent. ‘Innocent until proved guilty’ is ripped up as Sean is exposed in the press, publicly abused and barred from his university, his friends and his future. The interminable wait for prosecution finally drives Felicity from grief to a dark obsession. Based on real events, Penetration highlights the agony of lives in limbo, waiting for a verdict. But will resolution ever come?

With the play directed ‘in the round’, audiences are confronted with intimate and intricate reciprocal implications of consent, and the devastating consequences of blurring sexual boundaries. Audiences are jolted into confronting dangers that could be just around the corner, unfortunately so recognisable in real life, from horrific news stories to social media and ‘hook up’ culture. By presenting every angle of these shocking true stories, Penetration asks audiences to examine their own judgement, as much as the characters’.

Directed by David Trevaskis (Silent on the Matter and Swallows, The Old Fire Station), Calum Wragg-Smith (Keeping Faith, BBC; Ambigram) and Georgina Armfield (Who I Could’ve Been, Southwark Playhouse; Lover, Whore or Handmaiden, Tristan Bates Theatre) will star as Sean and Anna in this controversial new play. Joining them are Louise Bangay (La Cage Aux Folles, Park Theatre; Handbagged, New Vic), Steve Chusak (Tut, Paramount; Krypton, Warner Bros. Television), and Amantha Edmead (SOLD, Edinburgh Fringe; Eastenders, BBC). Completing the cast are Rebecca Hunt (Magic Flute, Idéale Audience; What’s Up TV, Sky One) and Mike Anfield (Henry IV, The Rose Playhouse and St James Theatre).

Writer, Carolyn Lloyd-Davies commented: “Anyone above the age of consent must see this play. Penetration develops the stories of both the complainant and the defendant, and provocative contemporary theatre is what really interests me. I hope the play is ultimately devastating and empowering in equal measure. With the government’s new compulsory Relationships and Sex Education guidelines in place, this piece should raise as many urgent questions as it answers.”

Tickets are available priced £ 16 (£14) from The Cockpit Box Office on 020 7258 2925 or

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