Everything you need to know about ‘Prima Facie’ on Broadway, starring Jodie Comer
The Emmy-winning actress makes her Broadway debut in this thrilling legal drama.
The spring season on Broadway is filled with exciting new plays, and that’s evident even at first glance. Among them is Prima Facie, a timely one-woman drama starring the estimable Jodie Comer, who won an Emmy Award for her vivid portrait of an assassin in Killing Eve.
Comer’s character in this one-woman play, written by Suzie Miller, provides another acting showcase packed with intensity. The production plays a limited engagement at the Golden Theatre following an acclaimed, sold-out run in London, and Comer has called the chance to be on Broadway “a dream come true.”
What is Prima Facie about?
Prima Facie contains discussions of sexual violence and comes with a trigger warning.
The solo drama follows Tessa, a criminal defense barrister (or attorney) in the U.K. whose view of the legal system and its murky moral loopholes abruptly shifts when she is sexually assaulted.
The title of the play means “at first glance” and suggests changing perspectives for Tessa. Prior to her assault, she had carved a career out of defending men accused of sex crimes.
Where is Prima Facie playing?
Prima Facie is at the Golden Theatre, located at 252 W. 45th St. between Broadway and Eighth Avenue. Built in 1927 as the Theatre Masque, it was bought a decade later by impresario John Golden. He renamed it for himself.
The theatre’s recent residents include productions of Topdog/Underdog, Hangmen, Thoughts of a Colored Man, and Slave Play.
How long is Prima Facie?
Prima Facie runs approximately 100 minutes, without intermission. This is within the average range for a Broadway play; they typically run anywhere from 90 minutes to 3 hours.
What days is Prima Facie playing?
Prima Facie plays Tuesday through Sunday, with two performances on Wednesdays and Saturdays and no performances on Mondays. The run of the production is from April 11 through July 2.
When did Prima Facie premiere?
Prima Facie debuted in 2019 in Sydney, Australia. The production at the Stable Theatre starred Sheridan Harbridge as Tessa and was directed by Lee Lewis.
Prima Facie went up three years later in London’s West End, where Comer first starred as Tessa. The run at the Harold Pinter Theatre opened on April 15, 2022 and closed on June 18. Comer now reprises her starring role in the Broadway production.
Who wrote Prima Facie?
Suzie Miller, an Australian/British playwright, librettist, and screenwriter, wrote Prima Facie. Miller is a former human rights and children’s rights lawyer. Miller studied law at the University of New South Wales after majoring in immunology and microbiology at Monash University.
Miller’s 2005 debut play, Cross Sections, was informed by her work as a lawyer working with homeless youth in Sydney’s red-light district. Her 2022 play, RBG: Of Many, One, about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, premiered in Sydney in 2022.
Prima Facie characters
The play's sole character on stage is Tessa, a lawyer whose specialty is defending men accused of sexual assault. Tessa must reconsider her views and the law when she becomes a victim of such a crime.
Comer sketches in “numerous other characters,” including posh colleagues, her abrasive mum, and her combative brother, according to the four-star London Theatre review of Prima Facie.
What awards has Prima Facie won?
For its 2019 premiere run in Sydney, Australia, Prima Facie won the 2020 Australian Writers’ Guild Award for Drama, the 2020 David Williamson Award for Outstanding Theatre Writing, and the prestigious 2020 Major Australian Writers’ Guild Award across all categories of theatre, film, and television.
For her performance in the London run of Prima Facie, Comer won the 2022 Evening Standard Award for Best Actress and the 2022 West End Debut Award. Her Broadway turn earned her the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play.
Major productions of Prima Facie
Prima Facie has had a few major productions since its 2019 debut. Here are the key productions of the play thus far.
- 2019 Australian premiere: Prima Facie debuted in 2019 in Sydney, Australia. The production at the Stable Theatre starred Sheridan Harbridge as Tessa and was directed by Lee Lewis.
- 2022 U.K. premiere: Prima Facie premiered three years later in London’s West End. Jodie Comer starred as Tessa in the run at the Harold Pinter Theatre, and she earned multiple awards for her performance. The run entirely sold out almost immediately.
- 2023 Broadway premiere: Prima Facie makes its U.S. debut in spring 2023, with Jodie Comer reprising her starring role. Justin Martin, who helmed the London production, also returns to direct.
Celebrities who have performed in Prima Facie
English actress Jodie Comer is known for playing the unhinged assassin Villanelle on the TV thriller Killing Eve – for which she won a 2019 Emmy and a BAFTA. Comer also won a Leading Actress BAFTA for playing a caregiver in Help starred in the movies Free Guy and The Last Duel.
Onscreen adaptations of Prima Facie
In July 2022, a filmed performance of Prima Facie in London starring Jodie Comer was shown at cinemas around the world for a limited time by National Theatre Live. This included a few theatres in New York, such as Symphony Space and the IFC Center.
Fun facts about Prima Facie
Learn more about the meaning behind the show's title, how music plays a role, and more facts about Prima Facie below.
- Prima facie means "at first sight." It is a legal claim indicating there is enough evidence to proceed to trial or judgment.
- Music plays a pivotal role in Prima Facie. The play’s original score is by Rebecca Lucy Taylor, who is better known as Self Esteem.
- For its transfer to London's Harold Pinter Theatre, the character of Tessa was tweaked to establish her working-class Liverpudlian background. Comer is from Liverpool.
- During the London run of Prima Facie, Comer’s character crumpled an empty bag of chips and tossed it into the audience. Theatregoers reportedly clamored to get their hands on the keepsake.
How to get Prima Facie tickets
Prima Facie is an explosive and timely play that's sure to captivate audiences in New York just as in London. Don't miss your chance to see a globally celebrated actress make her Broadway debut.
Photo credit: Jodie Comer in Prima Facie in London. (Photo by Helen Murray)
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