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Meat, new writing from Gillian Greer at Theatre503

India Mullen

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

45North are presenting Meat, a new piece of work from playwright and dramaturg Gillian Greer, at Theatre503 – from Wednesday, February 19 to Saturday, March 14, 2020.

Greer, who was recently appointed as Soho Theatre’s new Literary Manager, is fast establishing a reputation for creating work that looks at sexuality within society; a theme which weaves itself throughout all her plays including Meat – the script for which was a finalist for the Theatre503 Playwriting Award in 2018.

You’re tellin me that just because ‘Fiach’ wears a blazer
cos he reads Joyce and listens to The Smiths
That he hasn’t done stuff
worse stuff than me?

Meat is a story of consent, class and how modern-day Ireland reckons with transgressions surrounding harassment, sexual assault and consent buried in its past. When Max pays Ronan a visit at his restaurant in Dublin, Ronan is determined to prove to her how far he’s come. But Max has something bigger to discuss; a revelation which will set them on a collision course like neither of them have experienced before. How can one couple navigate their shared history when their memories don’t match up?

With a strong, sharp script that avoids stereotype and fearlessly dramatizes truth, Greer’s frank play follows individuals all trying to do their best in a situation which tests their own biases, perspectives and beliefs about how sex and power can operate in the modern world.

Over the course of one wine-soaked evening, the two past-lovers are thrown back into the eye of the storm where old wounds are exposed, and new truths uncovered. But how do you make sense of the fallout of one night, seven years ago, if you can’t agree on what happened?

A daring exploration of the aftershock of sexual assault revelations, Greer’s three hander introduces a distinct theatrical voice with vibrant energy via a play with real teeth.

The cast includes India Mullen (pictured top) as Max, Sean Fox (pictured below) as Ronan and Elinor Lawless as Jo. Lucy Jane Atkinson directs.

Sean Fox

With an all-female creative team, the show will see a tour de force pairing of Greer and director Lucy Jane Atkinson and will be produced by 45North – newly established female-led theatre company who are quickly gaining a stellar reputation for their work in placing marginalised and female-focussed narratives in the spotlight.

With the piece focusing on a sensitive and potentially triggering topic, the creative team will be working closely with an intimacy director to ensure that – in a time where the theatre and wider entertainment industry itself is still facing up to and dealing with its recent movement against sexual harassment and sexual assault – the actors are able to feel comfortable in rehearsals, as well ensuring that their on-stage body language and movements are appropriate and as true to life as possible.

Speaking ahead of Meat’s run, Greer said: “I wrote this play because I wanted to talk about consent with an empathy, complexity and nuance that I have not seen elsewhere. The play will also explore how other issues such as class and race intersect with how rape culture operates. Navigating sexuality and consent in the modern world is fraught, but navigating it in a post-Catholic, post-economic crash, newly socially liberated Ireland is explosive.

“I hope that the play will invigorate its audience and provoke them to have challenging, sincere and difficult conversations about their own perceptions and attitudes towards consent. Most importantly, I want it to be a human story, underwritten with love, care and humanity.”

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