Harvey’s touching play is still a thing of beauty, over 20 years on

Time has been very kind to Jonathan Harvey’s breakthrough play Beautiful Thing since it was first performed in 1993.
Beautiful Thing

Photo by Anton BelmonteBeautiful Thing

Photo by Anton Belmonte
Beautiful Thing Photo by Anton Belmonte

While the references to Richard and Judy and Erasure make it into something of a period piece now, 20 years on, the themes running through the play are still bang up to date.

This production from Nottingham Playhouse Theatre Company, Curve Leicester and Tom O’Connell for QNQ keeps all the good things about Beautiful Thing firmly in place.

What impresses most about this tale of two young men falling in love on a South London council estate during a hot summer is that Harvey includes some big themes - sexuality, bullying, domestic violence - but gets his points over by stealth.

There is never any sense that he is using a sledgehammer to make his point and that is so refreshing.

At the heart of the play are touching performances from Sam Jackson and Thomas Law as Jamie and Ste, the two young men inching their way towards the realisation that they are gay and dealing with other peoples’ views of that.

The star turn though is undoubtedly EastEnders’ Charlie Brooks as Jamie’s loud, brassy but good-hearted mum Sandra.

Her charismatic performance commands the attention every time she is on stage and she brings this complex woman beautifully to life.

Beautiful Thing remains funny, touching, affecting and highly effective. It is on at Nottingham Playhouse until May 9 and comes highly recommended. For tickets, call the box office on 0115 9419419 or go to www.nottinghamplayhouse.co.uk

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