It’s a rare thing, to see a fierce media row sparked by one controversial individual taken straight out of the press, and made into a 50-minute play. That’s what happens, though, in Clara Glynn’s Safe Place, the last of five Play, Pie And Pint shows to transfer to the Traverse this spring. The central character, Martine – brilliantly played by Jennifer Black – is a middle-aged Glasgow academic shamelessly based on Germaine Greer, who has recently been extensively “no-platformed” by universities and broadcasters, after saying that while the rights of trans-sexual people should be fully respected, it’s nonetheless wrong for those born male to claim that they share the experience of “real women”.
Safe Place ****
Oran Mor, Glasgow
So when a mysterious, shivering stranger knocks on Martine’s door at 4am, it seems likely that there’s more to the situation than meets the eye; and sure enough, Rowan – also brilliantly played, by RCS student Shane Convery – soon reveals herself as a young trans woman who knows very well who Martine is, and who, despite her weakened state after some weeks of homelessness, is still up for a fight about whether she is a “real woman” or not.
It’s a fascinating, unresolved dialogue, in which Martine’s ingrained kindness and tolerance does battle with her intellectual convictions; she soon also has to contend with the views of her agent (Nalini Chetty), who just wishes she would shut up about the whole subject. And there is a final glimpse of personal reconciliation, as Martine and Rowan become temporary housemates; with a strong hint that in the end, it’s friendship and love that changes views, and not theoretical argument.
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, 2-6 May.