Safety Switch

Old Fitz Theatre, May 13

Rowan Freeman, Fiona Pepper and Warwick Allsopp. Photo: Mansoor Noor

Rowan Freeman, Fiona Pepper and Warwick Allsopp. Photo: Mansoor Noor

Rowan Freeman’s dark comedy Safety Switch was inspired by a real-life incident when he was questioned by police in 2011. In fact, some of the dialogue is taken directly from a recording of the police interview.

On the one hand, it’s hard to believe such a thing could happen; on the other it feels frighteningly plausible.

It’s late at night. Two actors (Freeman and Mansoor Noor) have been arrested for possession of assault rifles on an East Sydney street and brought in for questioning.

Interviewed individually, neither of them is terribly worried initially. After all, the guns are clearly fake – plastic props they’ve been using in a stage show, which they were just taking to their car. The paint is even peeling visibly off one of them.

But the detectives (Warwick Allsopp and Fiona Pepper), who have agendas of their own, aren’t convinced that’s all there is to it. When contradictions emerge in the actors’ stories, a silly situation starts to escalate into something serious.

Mansoor Noor, Warwick Allsopp and Fiona Pepper. Photo: Mansoor Noor

Mansoor Noor, Warwick Allsopp and Fiona Pepper. Photo: Mansoor Noor

Plugging into the current climate of fear, some of the writing could be tightened. One device used to relay important information to the audience feels unlikely, and rather than tightening the noose, the end peters out a little, but overall Safety Switch is a smart, satirical drama.

Staged on the set of the main production currently running at the Fitz – The House of Ramon Iglesia – with drapes over some of their props, it looks a bit rough and ready but it doesn’t really matter.

Presented by After David Productions, Eden Falk directs a tight, well-performed production that is thoroughly entertaining while packing a disturbing punch.

Running 50-minutes, the play – which was shortlisted by Playwriting Australia’s National Script Workshop in 2013 – sits neatly in the late night Old Fitz slot. Following the impressive Dolores starring Kate Box and Janine Watson, the late-night show is proving a great initiative.

All in all, Safety Switch is an entertaining, robust little show that plugs into the zeitgeist: a fun way to round off an evening.

Safety Switch plays at the Old Fitz until May 24. Bookings: www.oldfitztheare.com/safety-switch or 0403 995 761

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