Clara Glynn's play
A wonderfully intelligent play that is highly recommended for audiences this festival.
The play focuses on Martine, an ageing campaigner and author, who, despite being on the front lines of the women's rights movement, now finds herself being shut out of the conversation. Despite this, one night she is confronted by a scared young woman looking for shelter, and upon taking her in has to confront both her own prejudices, and the big questions plaguing the modern day feminist movement.
The play's great strength comes from its willingness to leap head first into a very tricky and emotive debate, that is the relationship between feminism and trans rights and, most importantly, whether trans women are "women" for the purposes of feminist debates. Not content to provide easy answers the play does a stunning job in its hour long running time of giving both sides a chance to be heard, using its two central characters to hash out the issues at stake in an intelligent and very well measured way. The script does fabulous work of really interrogating both sides of the argument in an incredibly thorough way and this really helps the audience understand the exact positions of where each character is coming from, something other works on similar subject matter really struggle to do. It strikes the perfect balance by not caricaturing either character as being unforgivably monstrous or completely monstrous, and though the play comes down on one side of the argument it never does so at the expense of the reality that underpins the characters.
This is further enhanced by Jennifer Black's fabulous lead performance as Martine, being able to let us see the good in a character that says some truly awful things whilst never sanitising her bigotry, ultimately making her a compelling three dimensional person for the audience to invest in. Shane Convery too does a wonderful job as Rowan in highlighting her vulnerability whilst demonstrating a sharp wit that makes the audience support her.
The plays intelligence however sometimes gets the best of it, and at times it begins to feel more like a staged debate on the issue than a play, but thankfully it always pulls itself back to the core development of these two women, and it's the touching emotional bond between the two that really sells the show.
Safe Place is a wonderfully intelligent play that is highly recommended for audiences this festival.