This season of A Play, A Pie and A Pint wraps up with Safe Place, an involving story, revolving around a discussion on feminism and transgenderism. The characters are alive with dimensions that make them simultaneously likeable and unlikeable, which, thanks to the quality script and acting, makes them as complicated and multi-faceted as real life humans in fact are.
We meet Martine, described as a TERF (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist), with a successful career as a writer and speaker and Rowan, a nineteen year old transgender woman. Martine (Jennifer Black) has been an activist for many years, fighting for women’s rights and takes the homeless Rowan (Shane Convery) into her home, providing food, clothing and shelter. However, what Rowan really desires, is to be embraced by Martine as a woman – unequivocally and equally, yet Martine is fiercely protective and exclusionary over female identity. They have marked differences in some of their opinions, experiences and demonstration of femininity, but similarities in their stubbornness, wit and deep love for what it is to be a woman.
Safe Place is ever so slightly and irritatingly let down by something so seemingly insignificant as props – very obviously fake flowers and fruit squash masquerading as (but lacking the rich colour of) red wine, are more in keeping with amateur shows, which is strange as both are easy and inexpensive to replace with more believable alternatives.
This is Convery’s professional debut and his performance is impassioned, emotive and real, pointing to a likely very successful career ahead. Black is also convincing and there’s a strong chemistry between the two. Martine’s agent played by Nalini Chetty, feels a little two dimensional, but brings some added comedy – although there are plenty of witty moments woven into the drama throughout.
Th ending, while satisfying enough in terms of story, is somewhat abrupt in terms of dialogue, leaving the audience unsure if it is actually the end and it is a bit awkward when onlookers are clearly unsure whether to start clapping. Overall though, Safe Place is a very engaging, topical piece and definitely worth watching.