‘The ability to hold both sides of the argument doesn’t push for change, zealots do.’

In such polarised times, it’s impressive that playwright Kendall Feaver sets out to explore these tensions - single-minded activism versus moral compromise - in her post MeToo play Alma Mater about acts of violence towards women - a rape culture - within an elite university.

Energetically directed by Polly Findlay, the production boldly stakes out its debate-driven territory from the start.

The cast of Alma Mater at Almeida TheatreThe cast of Alma Mater at Almeida Theatre (Image: Marc Brenner)

When one fresher, Paige [Liv Hill] is raped on her first night at the fictitious St Clare’s at Oxford University by a fellow student, she resists reporting the incident till third-year student Nikki [Phoebe Campbell], encourages her to go public.

The two post details of what happened to Paige on a MeToo website they set up. But chauvinism and overt sexism in the college is rife. Even former firebrand - and now the college’s first female master - Jo [Justine Mitchell – very impressive], has been battling the flawed university system since the 80s and is now more concerned with funding a chapel conversion for multi-faith worship.

Issues surrounding social media become integral to the plot, not surprising given this is a post MeToo play set in a hot-bed world of freshers and predatory older students that touches on cancel culture.

The issue of whether political activism is tarnished once marketing is used is sharply handled as Paige rails against becoming the poster girl for their MeToo website, worried that her identity will be defined by trauma.

But the writing is overstuffed with debate: racial prejudice leading to self-fulfilling prophecies for under-achievement, a legal system played by entitled rich kids and their parents, Jo the pragmatist or reactionary, Nikki the role model or bully.

There is also an odd subplot involving the college Chairman [Nathaniel Parker] who pines after poetry and his wife, fellow academic Leila [Nathalie Armin] whose feminist commitments are reawakened.

It’s all rather episodic and drawn-out.

Dramatic tension dissipates despite a top-notch ensemble. The stage is flanked by benches and the drama is played out on a bare set that evokes a boxing ring. The pushback against crusty, high-handed institutions could be more forcefully felt.

Alma Mater runs at Almeida Theatre Islington until July 20.