The first of the double bill is a short play lasting around 25 minutes called Safe Sex, which revolves around a couple in the 80s and their fear about the aids virus, and their evident reluctance to take their relationship to the next level given the apparent past promiscuity of protagonists. Of the two plays the first is the weaker but does enlighten people of the fears people went through around that time and the devastating effects that aids had on relationships.
On Tidy Endings is the second play of the double bill, lasting about 50 minutes, and by far the stronger of the two performances. On Tidy Endings is also set in the 80s and centre’s around the death of Collin, a man who passed away as a result of the aids virus. The play starts off with Collin’s eleven-year-old son entering the flat holding a Rubik’s Cube, which gives away the era the play was set in. The flat is strewn with packing boxes of belongings and soon the mother and ex-wife, Marian, played by Deena Payne (who is best known for playing Viv Hope in ITV’s Emmerdale), takes centre stage and commands a brilliant performance throughout. We learn that the deceased after his divorce had formed a gay relationship with a man called Arthur, played very well by CJ de Mooi (known from the BBC2 general knowledge quiz, Eggheads). Arthur and Marion start to tie up loose ends with respect to the deceased’s belongings, but begin to form an understanding together, as the history of the love triangle unfolds, its origins and their fight over claim to status in Collins life. The play explores the deep-set grief of Collins partners, and how they deal with moving on together. A slight twist near the end could have been explored more by the writer, the Tony Award-winning Harvey Fierstein, but it certainly had us thinking.
Well worth seeing the second play alone, although I am unsure how the first play fits in or complements the second, other than the backdrop of aids in the 80s.
Tristan Bates Theatre is one of those smaller, off-West End Theatre’s that shows some interesting and thought-provoking plays from time-to-time.
To enjoy this one, I highly recommend that you come with an open mind, and throw away any preconceptions.