A thing of beauty is a joy forever
- Credit: Archant
Beautiful Thing by Jonathan Harvey, Serendipity Theatre Company at the New Wolsey Studio, Ipswich, June 25-28 uyt
It’s a beautiful thing, love.
It is can also be painful, harsh, funny and frightening.
Set in the early 1990s, the play, about two teenage boys exploring their sexuality and love for one another, shows all of these aspects of love and also powerfully depicts the love of a mother for her son.
Three doors in a south-east London council tower block; behind the middle one is Jamie, a 15 year old who shows little ability on the football field, his straight-talking mum, Sandra, who works in a pub, and her boyfriend the vocationally laid back, Tony, who wears socks with sandals.
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The neighbours on the left are Ste, a boy at Jamie’s school who can kick a ball with some skill and is regularly beaten up by his father.
Behind the third door is a foul-mouthed, wayward girl, excluded from school finding refuge in Mama Cass. Leah is looking for some kind of acceptance under her own terms but no one seems prepared to take that on.
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There isn’t much money about but the residents take advantage of their concrete outdoor space to soak up the sun, row, sling insults, fight and even show a bit of neighbourliness.
When Ste’s dad beats him up the lad stays over at Jamie’s and it is there, sleeping top to toe, that the two young men learn to trust their feelings for one another.
The production has enormous integrity. At no time did it seize on easy stereotypes and the actors and production team distilled the essence of this splendidly-written play into a heady brew of laughter and tears.
The actors showed conviction and sincerity; huge admiration for Elliot Sargent as bullied-at-school Jamie, Charlie Hanley as bruised, confused Ste, Molly Scurrell as Mama Cass devotee Leah and James Eves as drippy hippy Tony, the man fashion forgot.
Rosie Beattie, in the role of Sandra, gave a performance I shall long remember for its swagger and comedic skill, but most of all for its portrayal of a mother’s love; the fierce lioness, one minute protecting her vulnerable cub, the next knocking him out of doors to face the world.
High praise too for the production team, notably director Steve Wooldridge, producer Dean Wales and fight director Sally Scurrell.