Safe Sex and On Tidy Endings are two short plays, written by Harvey Fierstein, focusing on the subject of AIDS.
Safe Sex – a play about two men, one of which is so horrified by the thought of a new disease called AIDS, that he is scared to be touched by his partner without first consulting the list of things you can or can’t do to remain safe. Starring just two people, CJ de Mooi and Cole Michaels, we witness a conversation between two lovers and see how much of a strain the thought of contracting the disease can put on a relationship. “Do you trust me?” one of them asks. “Yes” replies the other. “Well that’s all that matters then” – a dialogue which goes to show sometimes no matter how much you worry about things, if you can trust each other then you can work things out. Safe Sex is a good piece which, had it been any longer could have become boring. The bed (where the majority of the play unfolded) was positioned at the front of the stage, causing some audience members (myself included) view to be blocked which detracted from witnessing the full emotion of the piece, which was a shame.
On Tidy Endings is the story of a gay man and a straight woman, meeting together after the death of their lover to sign paperwork and sort through nick naks. Marion (played by Deena Payne) has been divorced for many years, after her husband came out as being gay. The final few years of his life (after contracting the AIDS virus) were spent with CJ de Moois character, who nursed him during his demise. This difficult conversation sees a gay man asking his lovers ex wife to let go of him and let him grieve, for she lost him many years ago and this is his time to mourn. Again in this piece, the majority of the play is performed on a sofa, situated at the front of the stage, had this been moved further back, I am sure the view would have been clearer for many people.
Safe Sex/On Tidy Endings are nice pieces with an important message. It is the acting that really keeps the shows together here. CJ de Mooi is believable in both characters he plays, playing the roles with a soft nature but exploding into moments of anger. Deena Payne (best knows for playing Viv Windsor in Emmerdale) is perfectly cast as the mother and wife and Daniel Purves is adorable as son Jim. Emma Blackman brings some well needed moments of comedy as the solicitor who puts all feelings aside and just wants the paperwork signed so she can avoid getting a parking ticket!
This show is being performed at the Tristan Bates Theatre to support The Make A Difference Trust, who raise money for the British Entertainment community to support people living with HIV and AIDS in the industry.
Reviewed by West End Wilma
For more information on MAD Trust and the work they do, visit www.madtrust.org.uk
Safe Sex/On Tidy Endings plays at the Tristan Bates Theatre until 17 May 2014. Click here to book tickets.