‘Honouring the profound truths of these stories’: SAFE – Hackney Empire (Online review)

In London theatre, Online shows, Opinion, Plays, Reviews by Ian FosterLeave a Comment

Taking its starting point as the startling statistic that 25% of homeless and at risk young people identify as LGBTQ+, Alexis Gregory’s Safe is a piece of verbatim theatre that allows those very young people to have their stories heard. It’s an arresting and sometimes challenging piece to be sure but a beautiful thread of hope runs throughout, leading us to a place that is uplifting but pragmatically so.

Safe weaves together the stories of four homeless and at-risk LGBTQ+ young people that Gregory met through akt. From stories of self-realisation to cautionary coming-out tales, families who throw you out to families who close ranks to try and keep secrets, there’s a skilful mix of experiences that whilst are full of commonalities, reminds us of how intensely personal one’s own journey is.

This feels particularly true when the two trans stories intertwine, the contrasts there speaking to the richness and diversity of experience which is still rarely explored dramatically. And the accounts of enduring difficulties in familial relationships hits a little harder when you consider how the pandemic removed an escape route for many, trapping them in toxic environments.

Elijah Ferreira, Taofique Folarin, May Kelly and Mary Malone all give powerful nuanced performances of the testimonies handed to them. And though Gregory introduces a lightly artistic touch through music from LaMont and spoken-word from Yrsa Daley Ward, cinematography (Mann Bros) and lighting (Mike Robertson) ensure that the focus is on honouring the profound truths of these stories.

Safe is streaming for free via Hackney Empire.

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Ian Foster
Since 2003, Ian Foster has been writing reviews of plays, sometimes with a critical element, on his blog Ought to Be Clowns, which has been listed as one of the UK's Top Ten Theatre Blogs by Lastminute.com, Vuelio and Superbreak. He averages more than 350+ shows a year. He says: "Call me a reviewer, a critic or a blogger, and you will apparently put someone or other's nose out of joint! So take it or leave it, essentially this is my theatrical diary, recording everything I go to see at the theatre in London and beyond, and venturing a little into the worlds of music and film/TV where theatrical connections can be made."
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Ian Foster on FacebookIan Foster on RssIan Foster on Twitter
Ian Foster
Since 2003, Ian Foster has been writing reviews of plays, sometimes with a critical element, on his blog Ought to Be Clowns, which has been listed as one of the UK's Top Ten Theatre Blogs by Lastminute.com, Vuelio and Superbreak. He averages more than 350+ shows a year. He says: "Call me a reviewer, a critic or a blogger, and you will apparently put someone or other's nose out of joint! So take it or leave it, essentially this is my theatrical diary, recording everything I go to see at the theatre in London and beyond, and venturing a little into the worlds of music and film/TV where theatrical connections can be made."

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