BEAUTIFUL THING: Jonathan Harvey
Runs: 2h 15m, one interval.
Touring till 15 July
Birmingham Hippodrome till 11 April
Review: Alexander Ray Edser, 31 03 15
Touching, feel-good, still relevant
BEAUTIFUL THING is over 20! Who would have thought it? In this present touring production it’s as fresh as a daisy; still moving and still heart warming.
Harvey puts together a group of more-or-less losers, neighbours in a tough South London estate. Sandra works in a bar, her son, Jamie bunks off school, Leah the neighbour has to be home-tutored, Ste Jamie’s school friend is battered by his drunken father. Sandra has a younger man, Tony, an artist, who apparently isn’t doing anything at this time. It’s bleak.
Yet out of this, as we sense, failure, blossoms the most delicate of loves between Jamie and Ste. It’s like a bright flower on a rubbish tip. Although there are ups and downs, all the characters come through for the two boys, supporting, protecting and nurturing this young love.
Sam Jackson (Jamie) and Thomas Law (Ste) play the two young men with disarming honesty. Their ability to create vulnerability within the characters ensures the tale never descends into sentimentality. Lovely performances. Charlie Brookes creates a suitably brash Sandra with toughness and a great sense of humour. Her change of heart is surprising and how we welcome it.
There’s a strong sense of fun and commitment within the company that builds a bridge between their world and ours. The whole is deftly orchestrated by Nikolai Foster who has a fine eye for detail.
And lest we think everything in the garden (or on the estate) is coming up roses these days, we only have to cast our eyes around the world to see bigotry and hatred is still alive and kicking. Which means Harvey’s play, twenty years on, is still relevant and important as ever.
Director: Nikolai Foster
Set and Costume Design: Colin Richmond]Lighting Design: Ben Crocknell
Sound Design: George Dennis
Associate Set Design: James Turner-Donnelly
Casting: Kay Magson