Back the Night Commentary-Prescott Breitling

Back the Night, written by Melina Lopez and directed for the stage at Davidson College by Sharon Green, is a play that tackles the tough subject of campus sexual assault. Taking its name from the phrase “Take Back the Night” used by many groups fighting against violence against women, the play tells the story of Em and her internal struggle after her friend Cassie is assualted walking home one night. The core of the play is found in the relationship between these two characters. Both characters are complicated with their own set of contradictions, however together their complexity seems to give a mixed message to the audience. The play slowly peels back the layers of the situation like an onion creating for a murky, cold soup of an ending. By the end of the play, more questions seemed to have been raised, rather than answered. The play tries to explore the idea that “sometimes you do the wrong thing for the right reason” (Lopez has that in her description of the play on her website). However, at first glance it seems that the play may contribute to the pervasive and problematic idea that many women who come forward about sexual assault are lying. Maybe the play is trying to comment on the failure of universities to report and successfully handle cases of sexual assault and how that creates an atmosphere of distrust and unsafety. Whatever the case is, the play still may carry along negative undertones with messages it sends. Even still, the play is a call to action for everyone because the problem of sexual assault on college campuses still exists and schools are still failing to do survivors justice by trying to cover up assaults. Whatever problems the play may have it still makes one thing clear: there needs to be a widespread change in colleges across the United States in how they prevent and handle cases of sexual violence. 

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