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Denial

By • London
This London premiere of Denial forms part of an 80th birthday season of Arnold Wesker's work at The King's Head Theatre. The play centres on Jenny, a 30-something woman whose life has crumbled after her career and marriage break down. In her pursuit of someone who can provide her with answers Jenny meets Valerie, a Welsh therapist who specialises in Memory Recovery Therapy.

As a result of two years of therapy Jenny manages to recover memories of child abuse. With the support of her therapist she goes on to accuse her father of rape, as well as accusing her mother and grandfather of being complicit in the abuse that persisted throughout her childhood. Quickly, however, one is forced to ask the question: is Jenny unlocking real memories of her past or is her therapist planting memories that Jenny is then encouraged to retrieve under hypnosis?

The problem of human suggestibility as well as the fragility of family relationships are the central concerns of the play. The most chilling element is the power that Valerie (Sally Plumb) has over the vulnerable Jenny (Clare Cameron), who quickly becomes indoctrinated with the evangelical feminist ravings of her therapist. The disturbing nature of the drama is not simply a result of the cast's convincing performances however, but because Wesker based the story on real events.

The cast successfully capture Wesker's purpose of writing; that is, in performing the unthinkable and the unsayable we are forced to confront the darkest aspects of society.

- Charlotte Pegram


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