What do the imposing, interloping themes of movies like “It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” and “The Russians Are Coming,” and accompanying songs like “Compared to What,” “Shaddap You Face,” “What a Wonderful World” and “All You Need Is Love,” all have in common, regarding Bay Street Theater’s world premiere of Alan Fox’s “Safe Space”? In my mind, the simple answer is: everything.
In “Safe Space,” the description of strict adherence to political correctness, including “triggers” of unwanted “feelings,” brought forth telling, hilarious and painful scenes from screenwriters William and Tania Rose’s “Mad World” and “The Russians Are Coming.” In these movies, the settings are indicative of the extreme attitudes of the day, where reason and truth take a back seat to fear and misunderstanding.
The song “Compared To What” came to mind as the play’s student character, Jenny, who, while desperately trying to please her mom, orchestrates a consensus of like “sensitive” peers to force the school to fire dedicated Professor Marcus, whose intention is to equip his students to empathetically understand truth in American history in what might seem its too slow incremental civil advancement.
“Shaddap You Face” reminds me of parental frustration with kids’ whining, and lack of appreciation of life as it is. Contrastingly, “What A Wonderful World” describes the much-overlooked abundance of love for those who can see. And “All You Need Is Love” speaks to the play’s unspoken answer.
I was deeply moved by the timely piece. It brings attention and a keen sense of perspective to a much-needed understanding of America’s ongoing progressive evolvement.
Alan Fox has diligently construed this play with visionary director Jack O’Brien. The superb cast of Mercedes Ruehl (President Judith Rose), Rodney Richardson (Professor Marcus) and Sasha Diamond (student Jenny) seamlessly bring it all together. Perfection!
Mike PilieroHampton Bays
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