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Safe review at London Theatre Workshop – ‘a labour of love’

Riley Carter Millington, Kit Redstone, Laura Jayne Ayres and Michael Fatogu in Safe at London Theatre Worksop
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Having made a splash with several notable musicals at its base in Fulham, the London Theatre Workshop has moved across town to Leadenhall Market in the heart of the City. The new space may be practical rather than comfortable but the quality of work continues to surprise. Safe, a new piece of verbatim theatre, has been created by Alexis Gregory, a performer and writer with links to the Theatre Royal Stratford East and Rikki Beadle-Blair’s thought-provoking Team Angelica.

A quarter of homeless young people today identify as LGBT and it is this statistic that has prompted Gregory to create Safe, four teenage coming-out stories intertwined to create a compelling testament of abuse, resilience and ultimately hope. Gregory’s artful editing splices together each tale with a showman’s eye for dramatic structure and Robert Chevara tempers the often brutal stories with deeply sympathetic direction.

While the piece is overwhelmingly issue led, this is a genuine labour of love from Gregory and Chevara, reflected in the honesty and integrity of the performances. Laura Jayne Ayres as Alicia and Michael Fatogun as Samuel each bear witness to the horrors of coming-out to homophobic families, while Riley Carter Millington as Jack and Kit Redstone as another Alicia give frank accounts of their struggle with transitioning. Despite the difficulties faced by each character, the tone is remarkably light in places and the conclusion is one of hope rather than despair. Entertaining and enlightening, for all its simplicity in staging Safe deftly demonstrates the power and versatility of verbatim theatre.

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Smartly-edited verbatim piece performed with honesty and sympathetic direction