Gays play: On Tidy Endings and Safe Sex

Two short plays by Harvey Fierstein show that at least the western world has come some way when it comes to discrimination and attitudes towards HIV and AIDS. Even if you're not sure whether you should be laughing at their message.

The first of the two pieces, Safe Sex, is a one-joke piece about a lover who is obsessed about making sure that all the sex he engages with his partner is on a list of safe sex practices outlined in a leaflet.


From opening with a terrifically frightening sexual dance (pictured),  it descends into a predictable series of character neuroses and foibles. Perhaps if the chemistry between the two leads was as strong as their opening dance it might have been more engaging.

After a short break, things get much better with On Tidy Endings, where the ex-wife and the ex-lover have to tied up loose ends following the death of the man they both loved. Looking at the piece from the present day where gay marriage is legal and anti-discrimination laws exist, it is quite a thought provoking piece to think how far things have come, and also the challenges and discrimination that still persists. It tends to veer towards a predictable melodrama, but a combination of the performances and the story make it intriguing.

People interested in gay history might enjoy these two pieces from a time that people have forgotten with rising rates of HIV and chemsex.

The two plays are at the Tristan Bates Theatre in Soho until 17 May. Tickets are from £10.

The production is also supporting the Make A Difference Trust and you are given the opportunity to make a donation at the end of the show.

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