Under the one title Naked Woman are brought
together two plays by the critically acclaimed Garry O’Connor. The
first, Semmelweis, is a victim play in the Tennessee Williams
tradition, and the second, De Raptu Meo, is a theatrical
re-creation of English poet Geoffrey Chaucer and his times.
Semmelweis is from the start in a trap set by his own character and his overriding passion for truth. But his is a story of crushing disappointment, having parallels today, especially in medicine. To see flaws in the system, and to speak out against cover-ups and vested interest, invites pariah status and a ruthless sweeping aside in the relentless drive for conformity and profit.
De Raptu Meo, as Libby Purves pointed out in her review, exposes the relativity of truth we find in contemporary culture, which she has contrasted with events surrounding English poet Geoffrey Chaucer, who faced, in Richard II’s reign, the accusation of rape. Present society is awash with stories of sexual abuse as no other age has been. Here is a take on that subject, with the audience asked to participate in Chaucer’s trial as if the jury, and at the end give a verdict as to whether or not he was guilty of the crime.
Semmelweis was first performed at the Edinburgh Festival, and De Raptu Meo had its first reading in Inner Temple, with Derek Jacobi in the part of Geoffrey Chaucer, and its first full performance in the same venue with Ian Hogg in the lead role.