Aug 21 2014 | By More

✭✭✭✭✩  intriguing insights

Sweet Grassmarket (venue 18) Tue 19 – Sun 24 August 2014

In a witty, original and thought-provoking production of Dave Fargnoli’s new play, Safeword, Urban Fox Theatre Company show that things aren’t always black and white

Clare Ross and Samuel Jameson. Photo: Roddy Simpson

Clare Ross and Samuel Jameson. Photo: Roddy Simpson

Safeword goes into the life of Isobel, an emotionally closed off, anxious and self-deprecating young woman. It tells of her relationship with Ian, a man she meets by chance at a party.

Accentuated by an overwhelmingly monochrome set, two worlds emerge: a true world and one with a different kind of truth. Isobel is a version of herself in each world. In one she is always in control, in the other she is free and anything can happen. In each she is safe and protected – one by her distance from everyone and the other in her anonymity.

However, it becomes increasingly evident that not everything is as it seems. Under Amy Gilmartin’s direction, this is an insightful production that examines notions of self, the ascription of self, relationships, trust and honesty. Are everyone’s ideas the same? What is truth? And is there only one?

inventive approach to storytelling

Clare Ross plays Isobel with a certain neurotic charm – creating a character who is easy to identify with. She is a talented, interesting girl struggling to maintain a balance between her independence and a need for something more. However it is Ross’s ability to make a connection with the audience where she really excels, particularly when sharing Isobel’s intimate thoughts.

While Isobel is the emotionally unavailable one in the relationship, it is her lover/boyfriend/live in partner Ian, played by Samuel Jameson, about whom least known. He remains elusive and somewhat one-dimensional, but Jameson plays him with a sense of awkwardness and a seemingly reasonable and good natured persona underneath.

There’s a real wit behind the writing, seen in parts through Isobel and Ian, but mostly through the storytellers. Roisin Diamond and Joe Johnson set the scene of the piece and narrate throughout, while also stepping into the roles of minor characters along the way. They deliver a satirical reflection on modern day middle class life and highlight the ludicrousness in the everyday that often remains unchallenged.

What is particularly interesting about this production is it’s inventive approach to storytelling. Passing narrative from character to character, the production is inherently clever. Leaving a number of unanswered questions, it also ensures that it’s one to continue to occupy an audience long after they’ve left their seats.

Running time: 1 hour
Sweet Grassmarketm Apex International Hotel, Grassmarket, EH1 2HS (venue 18)
19 – 24 August
Daily, 17.15.
Tickets from:
Urban Fox website:


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