GENTLY DOWN THE STREAM
by Martin Sherman.
Park Theatre, Clifton Terrace, Finsbury Park, London N4 3JP to 16 March 2019.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Thu & Sat 3pm
1hr 35 mins One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7870 6876.
Review: William Russell 21 February
A life affirming voyage
Beau is a pianist, one time accompanist to the great Mabel Mercer. He is in his sixties and, to his delight, has collected a handsome young man on the Gaydar dating site. The night has gone well. Looking at Rufus, a 27 year old lowyer, he remarks – “You are so young, you make me feel like a priest.” Even better, perhaps – “You make me feel like I’m your ancestor.”
Rufus has no intention of losing this wonderful catch – he is obsessed with the past, knows who Beau is – Google has its uses – and wants to know all about his life. He stays for the next five years. Then he announces he has met somebody else, which upsets Beau, although Rufus is not his first love, and he had expected this would happen. The surprise is that Harry, a tattooed performance artist, is younger than Rufus. The result is a friendship that lasts the years, the ups and downs are revealed and Beau intersperses the events with a series of monologues which tell about his past in New Orleans where he grew up, where his first lover died, about the gay world unknown to Harry and familiar only to Rufus because of his obsession with things gone by.
It is a warm hearted play which looks at the past without coloured spectacles, remembers the horrors of Aids in America, the joys of the songs of Mercer, the love lyrics very often written by gay men which can mean whatever the listener wants, the secret world that was sometimes dangerous, sometimes exciting, punctuate the show.
Jonathan Hyde is a splendid Beau, wonderfully craggy and wrinkly, but refusing to be consigned to the past, yet lamenting that he is so old, while Ben Allen makes the bi-polar Rufus both completely desirable and yet trouble of the nicest kind, a boy to cherish through his ups and downs. Harry Lowrey, as the cuckoo who comes into their nest, catches perfectly the fact that he accepts the relationship between Beau and Rufus, and can live with that. He also has an inspiring moment when he sings a Mercer song which sums up what has happened to him.
The play directed with a sure touch by Sean Mathias is life affirming, the performances pitch perfect, and it deserves an after life.
Beau: Jonathan Hyde.
Rufus: Ben Allen.
Harry: Harry Lowrey.
Director: Sean Mathias.
Set & Costume Designer: :ee Newby.
Lighting Designer: Jamie Platt.
Sound Designer & Composer: Lex Kasanke.
Production Photographer: Marc Brenner.