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Safe Space – Future V, Teater V

Reviewer: Richard Maguire

Writer: Nanna Berner

Director: Pelle Koppel

First there was Danish Noir; now we have Danish Digidramatics, online plays performed live from Denmark through Zoom. Safe Space, Teater V’s first play through its online branch Future V, begins promisingly, full of intrigue and paranoia, but unfortunately, the tension collapses into an unlikely family drama that is more EastEnders than it is The Bridge.

On Saturday night, when this show was reviewed, there was even less tension as Safe Space wasn’t live at all. Because of cast illness, a recording of the show was delivered instead, initially causing the tech crew even more problems and meaning that the show was 15 minutes late. These things happen, but some of the tautness was lost knowing the joys of live performance had been unavoidably compromised.

Ene has her own livestream channel and she begins her broadcast talking about the mysterious envelope that has landed in her mailbox. The envelope bears no name or address, but inside are a giant three-leaf clover and a flash drive containing the sounds of a baby crying. What does it mean?, she pleads to her viewers. Could it be anything to do with the owner of a new nearby bagel cafe to whom she still owes money?

The stakes are raised when one of her audience announces that she, too, is the recipient of one of these envelopes. As well as the mysterious correspondence, Alma’s sister has disappeared and she is convinced that the two are linked. Add to this the sudden crashes and odd creaks that occur off camera, the first 20 minutes of Safe Space are gripping. When Luka, an old school friend, turns up outside Ene’s apartment all the ingredients for the perfect thriller are in place.

At this moment in 2020, it’s refreshing to have actors perform together in the same space rather than deliver monologues to camera. However, Berner’s script is too full of mini monologues where characters relate detailed childhood incidents to strangers. These expositions slow down the action, and some of the clues are a little obvious especially when Ene remembers how she was expelled from school after stalking a girl who she desperately wanted as a sister.

As Ene, Filippa Suenson is paranoid and edgy, though it’s difficult to believe that she would have followers to her livestream platform; her character is not very likeable. More sympathetic is Lucia Vinde Dirschen as Alma, seemingly at the end of her tether when Ene disappears from her screen. Mathias Bøgelund, as Luka, has to swear a lot, but despite his best efforts his character seems superfluous and at times he stands around doing very little. The cast is completed by Theresa Hedelund and Mette Ahrenkiel – to give away their characters’ names would give way the ending – who both put in good work.

At 55 minutes, Safe Space never outstays its welcome, but it struggles to maintain the disturbing atmosphere of its first 20 minutes. Let’s hope that Future V can build on this first presentation, and seeing plays performed in Denmark is surely one of the few upsides of the pandemic?

Runs here until 10 September 2020

The Reviews Hub Score

Promising

The Reviews Hub - London

The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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