Stars: Rosy McEwen, Kerrie Hayes, Lucy Halliday, Lydia Page
The personal becomes political in this understated North East-set drama that also serves as a worryingly timely and necessary reminder of how institutional bigotry is hawked under the pretence of concern for ‘family values’. Rosy McEwan is Jean, a private, broadly apolitical and popular PE teacher in a secondary school. In the evening, the young divorcée frequents the local lesbian bar with friends and her long-term partner, the more activist-minded Viv (Hayes). It’s 1988 and Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government is in the process of passing the Clause 28 act forbidding the promotion of homosexuality by local authorities, effectively stigmatising and instilling a climate of fear and suspicion against the gay community. The arrival of a new pupil Lois (Halliday), who is quickly accused of being a lesbian by bullying fellow pupils, creates a serious, seemingly insoluble dilemma for Jean, as well as putting her at loggerheads with Viv. Thatcher’s decrying of the ‘inalienable right to be gay’ feels depressingly familiar with the current culture war being waged on the Trans community. The production design summons up the 80s without resorting to obvious cultural signifiers, and McEwen is excellent as the conflicted protagonist who merely wants to live her life in increasingly oppressive and fraught circumstances.
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