Coming Home With Me follows three girls on a night out, exploring the more uncomfortable side of lad culture, unwanted attention and groping; revealed to be expected by girls, yet hidden from their male friends. Based on interviews conducted in Edinburgh, Brighton and London, and the accounts of bouncers and harassment charity experts, Coming Home With Me is a thoroughly researched piece of theatre, designed to inform as much as to entertain.
Opening with a necessary explanation of harassment, stories are then pieced together from night club toilets, as news reports and interviews, all taken from genuine experiences. Upsetting as the recreations are, the use of real recordings enhances the shock value of the performance. The montage of snippets from popular films and culture successfully conveys the pervasiveness of female objectification in society. Often overlooked, the idea of the bystander is explored through a verbatim interview with a bouncer, and experiences in clubs by those other than victims. Do not be deterred by the seriousness of its content, as Coming Home With Me achieves a suitable balance of humour and impact, touching on the hilarity of the male ego and the stereotypes we love to hate.
Certain actresses deliver the naturalism of a recreation more convincingly than others, adding a slight awkwardness, for which the uncomfortable subject matter at hand is not responsible. Whilst beginning with strength, once the main point – that sexual harassment is bad – is delivered, Coming Home With Me is pushed to provide an alternative angle, the toilet conversations about a ‘creepy guy’ coming across as repetitive. Whilst likely arising from the unfortunate volume of testimonies accounting the same story, the disproportionate weight placed on creepy guys in clubs leaves less attention for other avenues. The exploration of the media portrayal of sexual harassment and of consent within relationships is strong, but left underdeveloped. At times, the looseness of the script softens its blows; some testimonies would be improved by their shortening.
Coming Home with Me conveys the scale and severity of sexual harassment, whilst managing to entertain – a laudable feat. However, you will not find much new here by way of a message. The piece may serve as an eye opener for some, but as confirmation for most.