Reworked somewhat since its premiere at the 2002 Edinburgh Festival, Unlimited Theatre's Safetyis a timely focus on our perception of war in far-flung places.
Michael (Steven Dykes) is a war photographer who picks the images that we shall see in the papers, only he knows the real story behind those haunting pictures, and nothing is quite what it seems.
The celebrated photographer has a price to pay for his fame and fortune. He is, for the most part, insulated from the horrors, seeing only the frame and the image - but soon it is apparent that not only is he haunted by his most-famous photograph, taken during the Balkans 1994 conflict, but also that he has difficulty getting to grips with what is real and what is there for the camera. What is definitely real is the risk to his own life each time he catches up with the action and the fear that his immunity as a member of the press corps is perhaps not enough.
Increasingly isolated from his wife Susan (Nesba Crenshaw) and child, and sucked into a loveless affair with a reporter (Liz Margree) who will not compromise her own agenda, Michael pays the price with everything he once held dear as his very humanity is questioned.
On Barney George's simple set, the action swings effectively between Michael and Susan's home, a room in a London hotel and the war-torn Balkans.
Although the route along which the drama unfolds is fairly obvious and the climatic outcome less shocking than it might be, there are some fine performances from Steven Dykes and Chris Thorpe. But the timing between Michael and Tanya Liz Margree needs tightening up. Nesba Crenshaw is convincing as the long-suffering wife but has a difficult long-winded and out-of-character opening monologue to overcome before our sympathies can lie with her situation.
A thought-provoking piece of theatre, Safety is the second in a loosely connected trilogy examining the foreign conflict as portrayed in the British media.
- Karen Bussell (reviewed at The Drum, Plymouth)