SALT LAKE CITY — We Both Know, produced by Seen & Heard Productions and written by Kassandra Torres is close to home. Set in Salt Lake City, the play deals with the trauma of date rape and the aftermath of trying to get legal help. This show shares the difficulties of current political and legal hindrances to getting justice.
The beginning scene has well-dressed Jacob Dennison (played by Michael Howell) being interviewed by Detective Apollo (played by Kassandra Torres). Jacob claims the outing with his co-worker, Danielle Davidson (played by Eliza Haynie), was a date that culminated in consensual sex. After gathering all his information, Torres meets with her co-worker, Detective Karla Lucia (played by Maggie Geersten), who tells her to drop the case because sexual assault cases rarely have any proof and there are so many of them that there isn’t any point in trying. Even so, she agrees to at least watch the recording of Haynie’s interview, and though she is distraught, it doesn’t change her mind. Having partially given up, Torres at home greets her sister, Kayla Apollo (played by Hailee Olenberger), who has come to visit for the week. Kayla persuades her sister not only to share what’s bothering her, but to stick to getting Danielle the justice she deserves, which results in Detective Apollo getting a social media search warrant where she finds enough information to keep the case alive.
The completely different stories about the same event from Howell and Haynie shocked me as the truth seemed so different when told by the man vs. woman. The message of We Both Know, though, is that modern culture seems to condemn rape victims for putting themselves in harms way and allows the perpetrator to get off free to repeat their crimes. Having an open discussion this play promotes about that cultural assumption is necessary to change that belief.
Apollo was a fun actor to watch with her nonchalant attitude about life and using her sister’s stuff, yet her deep pain at other people’s hurt. I appreciated her being able to perform that kind of feeling that some call being an “empath.” I also enjoyed the acting by Davidson as she told the rape story. The tears she shared seemed so genuine and I almost felt like I had walked in on something too personal to see. I was grateful for that kind of vulnerability on stage.
I would have enjoyed this show more if Torres’s script had made more sense. For one thing, it didn’t make sense that Haynie’s testimony was ignored by the law. The play never showed any legal proceedings where a judge could hear both sides of the story, weigh the evidence, and exact justice. I also didn’t think a detective could tell her sister all the details of a case she is working on. I assume investigators would keep information about an active investigation to themselves. However, the show tells an important story. I don’t blame Torres for focusing on the victim, but I also wish there had been some dialogue added that could explain why Dennison’s character did what he did, rather than just label him as a rapist. If women must fear that every man is a rapist, it is hard to go out and have a good time with a guy. The play would have strengthened its message if it had shown warning signs that a man has the potential to manipulate the situation or engage in sexual violence.
We Both Know can help audience members be more understanding of the struggles of sexual assault victims, a group who needs understanding so much. It could also use some more details to make it an even more balanced story of humanity and the difficulties we all go through.