To mark the opening of their new and rather fabulous venue on the Albert Embankment it was fitting that Above The Stag stage an apt revival, and by doing so they are able to mark the 25th anniversary of Jonathan Harvey’s Beautiful Thing. Harvey’s play has aged well, with the comments he makes via the five characters as relevant today as they were 25 years ago.
This is the story of Ste and Jamie who live on a council estate in London, where hanging out on the landing and playing football in their local park helps them cope with everyday life. The two actors, Ryan Anderson as Ste and Joshua Asare as Jamie, work well together. However, it’s Anderson that plays the role with such an air of confidence and strength that shines. He lives with an abusive alcoholic father and his friendship with Jamie is what he looks forward too.
The scenes between them as they discover their love unquestionable mutual respect for each other is heightened by the very clever use of a stage revolve, where the outside of the landing becomes the inside of Jamie’s bedroom. Director Steven Dexter has made great use of the increased space in the new and much larger venue.
With Sandra, Jamie’s mother, played by a watchable Kyla Frye, the play has gravitas to it and her stage presence is strong. She gives an authenticity to the role that also very funny via comic one-liners she delivers.
With good support from Kieren Mortell as Tony and Phoebe Vigor as the Mama Cass obsessive neighbour Leah, this production is an excellent first play to put on at the new Above The Stag space where the venue is indeed a beautiful thing. Stephen Vowles