Safe by Alexis Gregory. On line free to view. 4****. William Russell

These four testimonies about growing up and turning in to what you really are prove both touching and inspiring. They are also very well performed and therein lies the rub. Alexis Gregory has written some fine monologues in the past from his own experiences. Safe has been created from interviews he carried with homeless and at risk LGBTQ+ young people and the four stories are so well performed by this out-LGBTQ+ cast that one feels one is listening to genuine testaments. In fact four good actors are performing skilfully contrived texts very well indeed – the trans girl, the Nigerian who is gay in the face of all his family believes in, the drunk who realises she is a lesbian and the gay guy driven to become a rent boy but is a survivor in spite of it all. But the trouble is the testimonies are created by the writer and worth listening to though they are one is seeing and hearing what one is meant to hear, what the author intends one to hear and once the illusion of authenticity if shattered it loses its power.
As to the cast all being “out” that added nothing to the experience for me. They are actors doing what actors do. Pretending to be somebody else. Their sexuality is beside the point. Safe is, of course, about the experience of the homeless young, homeless because families have disowned them, but at times one feels gay theatre is invariably about those outcast by society. For once listening to someone saying quite clearly that they got on with the job of getting on with life, which is what Gregory’s own monologues seem mostly to say, would be worth hearing too.
Whether these monologues amount to an uplifting celebration of queer survival is for those who watch to decide. Well written, skillfully done, previously successfully performed in various venues in and outside London, Safe is free to watch on line on You Tube and the Hackney Empire website –
Elijah Ferreira
Taofique Folarin
May Kelly
Mary Malone
Director: Alexis Gregory.
Directors of photography & post production: Mann Bros.
Lighting Design: Mike Robertson.
Production Sound: James de Taranto.
Make-up: Victoria Winfield.

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