Rita, Sue and #MeToo: ‘there’d be outrage if it was written today’

Was the Royal Court right to put on Rita, Sue and Bob Too? We asked three playwrights to look afresh at Andrea Dunbar’s story of two girls preyed on by an older man

I was shocked when the Royal Court cancelled Rita, Sue and Bob Too. I know they had their day of action against sexual misconduct, which saw 150 accounts of harassment read out on stage, but this play has strong female characters, it’s written by a woman and directed by a woman. So they were right to reinstate it: we need to see Andrea Dunbar’s play in the #MeToo era.

Kate Wasserberg’s production opens with a backdrop of Bradford, made to look slightly magical. You hear 80s music and think you’re going to have a laugh. Bob is driving the babysitters home and it’s clear they’re just kids. He’s got a plan – he’s bought condoms – and as soon as he asks if they are virgins, you want to scream: “Get out of that car!” So I was surprised by the audience laughing as Bob has sex with them. I mean, a bum is funny, we’ll all laugh at a bum – but then the house lights gradually come up, putting the audience on the spot, asking us how comfortable we feel watching this.

 

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