Safe Sex

Harvey Fierstein
Network Theatre Company
Network Theatre - Lower Road
to

Two men sit precariously on a white plank, balanced on two black blocks at the centre. Should they move closer to each other, the whole thing could tip over.

This is the striking simple set, suggestive of a bed or a window ledge, in Network Theatre’s fluent production of Harvey Fierstein’s 1986 play Safe Sex.

The men have only been back together for a short spell after being separated for a year, the living casualties of the fear of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) then gripping gay communities, struck by the long line of funerals taking away friends and partners.

They recall being happier in a past where it was a matter of “to be or not to be in the closet” and “our fear was of those who would not let us be”.

Sam Neal as Ghee, worries about the list of what might not be safe, while Mead (George White) seems to think Ghee makes too much of the risks. He doesn’t want to love someone by a list.

The actors give an exceptional performance of this 40-minute, gently lyrical, occasionally amusing piece of theatre, making every facial expression and gesture interesting.

The corona virus makes us currently more conscious of the terrible danger of an approaching infection, but nothing compares with the terror experienced by a gay community that for a long time were left to face this alone by governments complacent, prejudiced and foolish.

Reviewer: Keith Mckenna