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Play for Today: Even Solomon (BBC-1 1979, Paul Henley, Sylvia Kay)

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In superb Play For Today Even Solomon, young bank clerk Steven gets something of a hard time from the people around him. His work colleagues are convinced he is homosexual, his mother thinks he needs to toughen up, 17 year old neighbour Sandra clearly fancies him but he is unwilling to ask her out.

A visit to an unsympathetic doctor to talk about sexuality alerts us to the fact that Stephen has some issues and a night at home alone (whilst his flamboyant, bohemian divorced mother Sylvia is out with her new boyfriend also alerts us to the fact that Stephen likes dressing up as a woman. Things take an interesting turn when his mother’s planned night out goes awry and she returns home to find Stephen fully made up and dressed as a woman.

At first Sylvia is devastated that her son is a transvestite but quickly tries to gain an understanding of her son’s feelings. Trying to find answers Stephen (or Susan as he now wants to be called) and Sylvia realise that Stephen is in fact transsexual and not just a transvestite. With major decisions to be made about how he wants his life to proceed Stephen takes matters head on and turns up to work as Susan, albeit only to hand in his resignation as he prepares to move on.

What would have been somewhat controversial at the time now seems remarkably prescient, certainly of relevance in todays society.

Paul Henley is brilliant as Stephen. Sylvia Kay as his mother is even better but the performances all around are balanced and nuanced. From Simon Rouse’s loutish Jake to Colin Douglas as sympathetic bank manager Mr Leslie.

production details
UK | BBC One | 1×85 minutes | Broadcast 1 November 1979 at 9.25pm

Series: Play For Today Season 10 Episode 4

Writer: Andrew Taylor
Costume Design: Judy Pepperdine
Script Editor: Alan Seymour
Production Design: Paul Joel
Director: Roger Bamford

cast
Paul Henley as Stephen Piper
Sylvia Kav as Sylvia
Colin Douglas as Mr Leslie
Derek Farr as Sam
Bruce Purchase as Jake
Simon Rouse as Blakeney
James Healey as Corrigan
Sally Watkins as Lorraine
Catherine Hall as Sandra
William Simons as Doctor

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