Having already watched the film adaptation of Jonathan Harvey’s Beautiful Thing, I was excited about seeing the theatre production and noting what had been changed from play to film (other than Ste wearing an Arsenal shirt in the film and a West Ham one in this performance…)
Nikolai Foster’s celebrated anniversary production was more than what I had hoped for. Charlie Brooks (Eastenders) was a powerful, loud and believable character on stage. Her character, Sandra, went through the different emotions as a young mother living in a block of flats in London during a hot, sweaty summer, finding out her son has been visiting a gay pub and focusing on their relationship as mother and son. There was also something so crazily likeable about Tony (Gerard McCarthy – Hollyoaks, The Fall) who tries to build a connection with his girlfriend’s son, Jamie (Sam Jackson – Skins).
Popular Ste (Thomas Law – Eastenders) and kicked-out-of-school Leah (Vanessa Babirye – Our Girl) are two other fantastic characters who live on the same floor of flats, both with their own set of problems – Ste with a bully for a dad and Leah unsure of her future.
The performance has humour as well as hard-hitting grit that will make you put your hands up to your face in shock, whilst at the same time showing the first stages of coming out and falling in love during the early 90s – as well as a strong theme of Mama Cass! The script is witty and the language can be foul, but this love story could possibly resonate with those thinking back to the days of being a teenager and hiding in the closet, way before social media and the help for LGBT people today.
It was also nice to see the cast come back on stage and Charlie Brooks reading a speech about Stonewall, and the fight for equality amongst LGBT people across the world, which received a massive applause.
If you’re looking for a theatre performance that’ll make you laugh, want to cry, grit your teeth and hold your breath, then you’ll be happy to know that Beautiful Thing will be available to see until 30th May in Leicester.