09:08 | 19th May 2019

Reviews: Live Shows

Sun 10 Jun, 2018
By Robert Ingham

a rare treat that everyone will surely relate to

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The new, and very much improved, Above The Stag has officially opened for business in its new venue. Whilst still under the arches, but on the other side of Vauxhall station, it has steamed into town with its latest production, Beautiful Thing by Jonathan Harvey.

For those unacquainted with Beautiful Thing, it is a fairytale of two fifteen year-olds boys, Jamie and Ste, who live next door to each other on a housing estate in south London. After being beaten by his dad, Ste sleeps over in Jamie’s bed and, in doing so, it ignites a sweet romance.

Jamie’s other neighbour is Leah, wise-cracking and potty-mouthed, who loves to bring Mama Cass to life, and this is the soundtrack which runs through the play. She has got At-ti-tude which clashes, much to the audience’s pleasure, with Jamie’s mum, Sandra. She’s a single mum, working at the local pub and dating toyboy Tony, who would be considered, in the right environment, to be “too cool for school”. Alas, this is not that environment.

There is much to love in this 25th Anniversary production, and considerable attention to detail has gone into to this piece, set in the mid-90s, from the costumes to the voiceovers. Director Steven Dexter has struck gold with a simple but highly effective set, designed by David Shields and some stunning performances.

The whole cast are smashing, with Joshua Asaré (Jamie) and Ryan Anderson (Ste) giving strong stable performances, capturing the essence of two teenagers falling for each other.

Kieran Mortell is rightly cast as preppy shell-suit clad Tony, switching between lothario, stoner and wannabe stepdad.

Kyla Frye as Sandra and Phoebe Vigor as Leah are the two particular stand-outs. With incredible lines, and facial expressions that catch extra nuances, they have both been perfectly cast and propel the production.

It is obvious why “Beautiful Thing” keeps being revived. The script is simply divine, with plenty of lines you can happily quote.

There are a couple of teething problems and issues with sightlines but these will be resolved as time goes on. This is their first show, after all. However, to be honest, I stopped writing notes shortly into the first act. It is a lovely, sweet story or first love, and is a rare treat that everyone will surely relate to.

Beautiful Thing is on at Above The Stag theatre, Vauxhall, London until 29th June. A must-see.



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