Prima Facie review: An extraordinary Jodie Comer exposes our broken legal system in a striking if tidy drama

In her West End debut, the ‘Killing Eve’ star is steely, agile and remarkable

Ava Wong Davies
Thursday 28 April 2022 12:41
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<p>Jodie Comer in ‘Prima Facie’ </p>

Jodie Comer in ‘Prima Facie’

It’s hard to believe that Prima Facie marks Jodie Comer’s West End debut, given the command the Bafta winner has over her audience from the moment she strides onstage. Comer doesn’t drop the ball for a second of the play’s 100 charged minutes. She plays Tessa, a defence barrister who specialises in defending accused rapists. Her life, ethics, and belief in the system she’s spent her entire career upholding come crashing down when a fellow lawyer rapes her.

Suzie Miller’s text is pacy and punchy. A lawyer turned playwright, she excels at the rapid, ruthless courtroom scenes, where certainties can be massaged and manipulated into confusion. Comer shines on both sides of the dock. As the bullish, swaggering lawyer at the play’s start – “a thoroughbred”, as she puts it – Tessa relishes exploiting every chink in her opponent’s armour. “It’s not emotional for me,” she states. “It’s a game.”

Tessa luxuriates in the performance of the court. She’s just as at home at the bar as she is taking shots and twerking with her colleagues. Conversely, when Tessa decides to take her rapist to court and becomes the witness – and is cross-examined by a patronising, vicious QC – Comer is alternately steely and impassioned, noble and embarrassed, flustered and composed. It’s a remarkably agile performance.

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