Jamie is desperate to prove that he’s a real man. Real men can do 40 press-ups in a row and drink beer all night. As we learn from Alex Gwyther’s new play however, Jamie hasn’t always been like this.
He has had to move away from his best friend Sam and reinvent himself as Jack the lad. Ripped is an intense, one-man drama about a young man who has been raped and the indifference with which the act is greeted by the authorities.
Gwyther’s writing vividly exposes both the physical and mental anguish of male sexual assault as well as the silence that surrounds it – 96% of all male rape cases go unreported and in this play, Jack immerses himself in toxic masculinity in order to mask the trauma. He uses a cocktail of Stella and cocaine to numb the pain until he unexpectedly meets his attacker within the circle of lads who have adopted him.
If Gwyther’s subject matter and writing style is heartbeaking then his performance is exhausting. He tells his story, slipping deftly between his old and new self until eventually there’s nothing left but a broken spirit.
Ripped doesn’t just evidence the symptoms of sexual abuse, it underlines the cycles that can develop if it goes unchecked.