Archive for August 20th, 2017



Extremely relevant in the current climate with the fear over pensions and how future generations are going to cope left to the devices of a government who don’t feel they can sustain the ever-growing elderly population much longer. Assessment takes a dark look at how a future government could provide one way of solving this seemingly unstoppable problem and it does so with wry, curmudgeonly humour but also a worrying hint of truth.
Alan McDonald(Stephen Clyde) has reached his 77th birthday-celebrating may be too strong a word- and his daughter Karen(Karen Bartke) is trying to galvanise him into some semblance of party celebrations with little success. The icing on the birthday cake arrives in the form of the slimy government ’salesman’ with nearly as much oil in his manipulative manoeuvering as there is in his hair Amrit Roy (Taqi Nazeer) who is under strict instructions to make Alan commit to a new scheme the government is trying to implement.
This new scheme is on the surface an attractive one- so attractive that unbeknownst to him Alan’s daughter Karen has arranged for Roy’s visit- and involves a lump sum of £30,000 to be paid in place of the weekly pension he is already in receipt of. There is only one catch to this seemingly generous offer and that is that Alan will not be around to benefit from it.
Certainly the idea of voluntary euthanasia is initially abhorrent to Alan but Roy’s persuasiveness not to mention the added sucker punch of his superior Siobhan Clarke (Selina Boyack) soon makes him reconsider although obviously nothing goes quite the way anyone planned.
Written by Robert Dawson Scott the script is taut and full of dry witticisms despite the gravity of its subject matter. If it falls short anywhere then it is in the slightly pedestrian direction which at times feels flat-especially during the scene changes where some momentum is lost- and a little dated. It is however an extremely enjoyable production and the acting talent on display is highly commendable.
Assessment is on at The Gilded Balloon Rose until August 28th at 2.30pm



Safe Place

This interesting production focuses on the discordant dynamic between a well-respected elder generation feminist, Maxine, who has come under the spotlight of criticism and controversy with her views on transgender women’s rights and a young transgender woman, Rowan, who turns up on her doorstep claiming she needs a safe place to stay after reading a newspaper article wherein Maxine claimed she would feel compelled to offer shelter to a homeless person should she ever come across one in need.
Of course things are rarely as they initially seem and Rowan’s appearance and pleas for help although seemingly genuine come with an agenda all their own. What follows is a barbed battle of wits with both sides making convincing cases for their argument. Maxine as a long serving feminist- Germaine Greer is an obvious reference point and Greer herself has spoke disparagingly of the transgender issue- still feels the struggles she has suffered and the fights she has fought for women to be accepted on a more equal footing although she doesn’t feel that fight is anywhere near over yet. Her attitude to Rowan whilst not wholly unsympathetic is definitely not empathetic and the idea that a male having lived sixteen years as a male suddenly deciding to become a female is something she views as a male right; Caitlyn Jenner in a corset on the cover of Vanity Fair, coming from a position of privilege and money, is thrown up as an example of how suspiciously she views the idea of transgender rights and equality.
Rowan however tries to explain that it is not that simple and before she actually came out as trans she had struggled daily in her life beforehand and only found any solace after she had made the admission to herself and then to others.
Written and directed by Clara Glynn, Safe Place is an intriguing thought-provoking work that looks at an issue that is very relevant in our culture today. The cast, Jennifer Black, Nalini Chetty and Shane Convery as Rowan, all handle their roles with skill and nuance. It is a worthwhile play which raises interesting questions and gives a balanced idea that life as a female-transgender or biological- is never easy and by creating subdivisions and categories this merely weakens the battle as it creates unnecessary distractions.
Safe Place is on at Gilded Balloon Rose at 12pm until August 28th.