Theatre N16 / Balham / 1st Feb - 13th Feb 2016

The Play

Goodnight Polly Jones

There are no blurred lines on this issue of consent. Even down to a-sub microscopic level, there is a clear distinction between right and wrong. And there is no doubt as to the nature of Peter's evil act; just as there is no doubt that his momentary act of weakness was an unpremeditated lapse by this good if not terribly bright man.

There is blurred vision, chiefly in the eyes of men unable to comprehend their actions. And as that denial builds into cognitive dissonance, they are unwilling to accept their guilt even in the face of conclusive evidence. Over thirty years in legal practice I met many Peters, they live in the world of what might have been, sharing his insane desire to 'clear the air' or 'talk things through'

This is a play about a good but weak man struggling to come to terms with guilt and remorse. Should we help or hate him? Pray for his eventual rehabilitation and return to society, or hope that he can somehow fade into its margins; invisible save as a bundle of rags in a shop doorway or another incident on the Northern line.

And what of Polly? She copes with her trauma with power and love, and an inner strength typical of her gender. I am proud of her. And those that doubt the veracity of her professional journey have never worked with graduate trainees, all childish ambition and clean fingernails at 21, transformed into hard bitten and effective practitioners at 26.

I have been immensely proud of the talented and courageous young creatives who have risked reputational suicide and financial ruin to take on the clunky script of a novice writer and this impossible subject.

I left legal practice with unresolved anger over many cases. I have been the suit sitting across the table. 'Of course I believe you Peter, but that's not how the Court will see it'. In litigation we need to make sure we maintain credibility above all else. Does drama need to be credible or can it be true instead?

Because there was a real Pervy Brian. It was only after his death that it came to light that a number of Pollys had been his victims. I was privileged to know one of them. But the real hero is Averill, one of the best and strongest women I have ever met, who stood by her Peter, many years ago now.

Peter's story is a tragedy which, I hope, has been truthfully told; find it in your heart to feel sympathy for him or not.

Andrew Sharpe