Sexual assault on college campuses: We all probably agree that it’s…bad. But addressing the problem is thornier than it sounds. Should campuses adjudicate cases, or only police? What if the victim wants privacy or nobody’s really sure what happened at all? These tricky questions propel the action in Student Body, Frank Winters’s compelling drama, directed by Michelle Tattenbaum and performed by the Flea’s in-house company, the Bats.
A group of buddies is hanging out in their campus’s scrappy theater, surrounded by plywood and power tools, when a freshman (Alexandra Curran) arrives seeking advice. She has discovered video on her camera from last week’s party, and amid the revelry is footage of what looks like a rape. Should she call the cops? Delete the file? What if the apparent victim was willing — or the apparent rapist was someone they know? As the group debates, argues, and eventually votes (then votes again, and again) on what to do, stories from that night emerge, revealing that everyone present played some role in what happened, and everyone has something to lose.
The plot offers few surprises, but Winters constructs it succinctly, keeping the focus on the difficult ethical questions, not on teary confessions of knowledge or guilt. After all, if nailing one culprit solved much, it wouldn’t make for such interesting drama.
By Frank Winters
41 White Street
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 13, 2015