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Edinburgh Fringe 2013


Ego Actus

Genre: Drama

Venue: The Space on North Bridge


Low Down

"Set in the affluent reaches of Manhattan, Safe is about trying to find your way in a scary world, and the dangers of growing up with wealth but no support: Mom’s in rehab, Dad’s forever working, you hate your body, you hate your prep school, and your anorexic best friend wants to kidnap her baby niece. What can be better than meeting a charming man with a dangerous past in a coffee shop? Produced by Ego Actus, this award-winning drama comes fresh from New York with much-garlanded director Joan Kane and acclaimed author Penny Jackson."


"New York City. Two troubled teenage girls. An older man. Is anyone safe?" Written by Penny Jackson, this award-winning play explores the shadows of uncertainty during a time of vulnerability. The play is very well directed by Joan Kane
This is an intense drama, simply staged, sharply and economically written. The acting is of high quality – emotional without going overboard. Unhinged parenting has brought forth alienated children and this creates the backdrop of an intriguing story that takes us into dark territory. A broken alcoholic mother in rehab has led to Nina reluctantly moving in with her parentally-clueless workaholic father;
The style is very naturalistic,the acting uniformly strong and, in places, powerful and highly convincing, but the dialogue struggled sometimes to reach near the back row. This got better over the hour the cast found their voice. A bit more clarity in places is needed and the footstep clumping on the wooden stage needs reigning in a bit. Lighting is too much of a general wash at the start and this muffles the performance a bit as do one or two sound effects which feel too disconnected from the stage action. These details, if attended to, could have a real effect on the punch of the piece. This is a finely crafted play, full of excellent dialogue, delivered impressively by the cast. The play deserves a better venue and needs higher production values to really turn into something special at this Fringe. A bit of tightening up, voluming up in this space from the very start and located sound effects closer to their actual place on stage will raise it from a production point of you.
The piece is at its impressive best when it gets physical and when the tension rises. But these are capable actors, well on top of the strong script.  Many other issues surface without ever drowning out the story – America’s obsession with beauty and weight loss, the danger of affluenza and the impact for detached parenting through overwork. Relevant issues, handled skillfully in the writing and in the stage realisation. The director has extracted the very best from the two young female actors in this piece, and the two men are believable throghout. The strength of the directing is that it has harnessed the script to the talent of the cast and it all feels modulated near perfectly as intense drama.
When does innocent friendship tip over into sexual danger? How do the needs arising from vulnerability and pain get safely satisfied rather than pitching into soothing darkness and danger ? These questions sit skilfully and patiently under the narrative of this well crafted play. The devil comes in many guises, often when we are at our most weak, and he offers us comfort… Yet this particular devil is all too human and I won’t tell you any more of this story unless I spoil it for you. Go see it. In a better space it could become outstanding. But even where it is, the play carries itself extremely well.
Want to see an engaging, well written hour long play at the Fringe – one with plenty of tension, interesting themes and questions and, most importantly, a good story ? If so, Safe is a very good choice.