CAREFUL. A two-hander presented by Milnerton Players. At Milnerton Playhouse until 30 July, 2022. Directed by Johann van der Merwe. These are SHEILA CHISHOLM’S impressions on Fiona Coyne’s work.

After watching Fiona Coyne’s 90-minute intriguing play, Careful, I rejoiced that, despite heavy odds, Milnerton Players’ thespians had gone into rehearsal anticipating a day “beyond lockdown” when theatres would live again.

Carolyn Venter and Gillian Vosloo star in Fiona Coyne’s Careful.
Carolyn Venter and Gillian Vosloo star in Fiona Coyne’s Careful.

Well-matched actors

Experienced director Johann van der Merwe cast two fine, well-matched actors for this witty, thought-provoking two-hander – Gillian Vosloo as Jean – a long out of work actress, and Canadian born Carolyn Venter as Leila – a gay theatre critic, wearing heavy-ankle-boots, tight jeans, leather jacket.

Coyne’s play concerns Jean’s dilemma with the part playing a lesbian that she’s (reluctantly) accepted. “No part for years now this…a lesbian!”, she says.

Elegant Jean who is classed as straight, belonging to the married, middle-aged, knees-together, twin-set and pearls brigade, finds tackling a lesbian character quite beyond her. Twenty-something Leila is Jean’s only known gay contact, whom she turns to her for advice.

The stage, bare except for normal backstage clobber, a shabby three-seater couch, table, chair, and typical working lights is where we first meet an agitated Jean, wrapped in her (artificial) mink, bewailing her lot.

When Leila stomps in, it’s obvious the pair are going to spar…. and they do.  Each takes exception to everything the other says.

Leila can’t comprehend what differences Jean expects between gay and straight women’s behaviour. Jean twists her pearls at Leila’s inferences – that straight automatically means a dull unlived life.

It shouldn’t take a couple of glasses of wine for tensions to ease. But it does. Relaxed, their arguing stops, and gradually they learn that, straight or gay, their everyday lives don’t differ that much and that their underlying prejudices were those imposed by society.

People’s sexual orientation is a highly sensitive issue and it needs a playwright of Fiona Coyne’s intellect to write a script which simultaneously exposes general prejudices, while quiet humour carefully peels these away.

It also takes a director with superior skills to interpret the depths of Coyne’s writing and bring from Vosloo and Venter exceptionally sensitive characterisations.

A 5-star production.

What: Careful written by Fiona Coyne
When: Until 30 July 2022
Where: Milnerton Playhouse Cape Town