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Muff is a striking piece of work, in many ways. It is not an easy play – in fact it is likely to cause audience members, of both sexes, to squirm in their seats. But it is its courage in tackling the ‘squirm inducing’ issues that elevates it. It is a play about a dysfunctional love triangle. Eve and Tom were lovers. Eve was raped. Their relationship collapsed. Tom is now ensconced with Manpreet, a confident, optimistic, sexually voracious young woman. But his relationship with Eve remains troublingly unresolved.
The play is courageous and highly skilful in both its content, and its form. It is structurally inventive, employing disparate and jarring time frames to add to its overall sense of dislocation, and calling upon déjà vu, dreams, and remembered and prefigured moments to further illustrate the psychic impact of rape. Without prejudicing the audience, or in any way judging its characters, Muff explores the effect of rape: it looks at the damage to both a victim and her lover; it looks at how one person can be rendered apparently resilient to an event and another completely broken by a similar event; and it shines light on a man’s and on a woman’s relationship to violence. The play is also bravely ‘in your face’ about aspects of modern female sexuality – promiscuity, sexual adventurousness, porn viewing, waxing, piercing and more.
With well-drawn, authentic and profoundly human characters, Muff is an intelligent, challenging, deeply thoughtful and highly original piece of work. In a world where gender relationships remain the minefield they always were, and where male violence towards women remains writ large, the judges consider this a play for our time and a groundbreaking piece of theatre.