Local production of ‘Beautiful Thing’ begins rehearsals

Beautiful Thing

A local production of Beautiful Thing, Jonathan Harvey’s bittersweet gay comedy about young love, runs at The Old Mill Theatre, South Perth from 11 to 26 March.

Beautiful Thing was a hugely popular play in the early 1990’s that went on to become a high successful film. Harvey went on to write the popular television series Gimme, Gimme, Gimme and Beautiful People, as well as collaborate on with Pet Shop Boys on their musical Closer to Heaven.   

In a run-down Thamesmead council estate, Jamie is bullied at school and Ste is bullied at home. One evening, Ste seeks refuge at Jamie’s. Something exciting and beautiful begins.

At turns tough and tender, this upliftingly optimistic play captures exquisitely and joyously what it is to be sixteen, in the first flush of love and full of optimism.

Deftly combining comedy with ardent drama, the play resounds, with characters that abound with attitude, energy, frankness and humour.

Matthew Jones, who has been cast as Ste, the boy next door, says the part is a role he personally has a lot of connection to.

“I am so pleased to be involved with such a current and relevant queer piece of theatre and I see the mirror image of his character within myself.”

“Coming from a low socio-economic area in the UK and growing up with the same turmoil that comes with being young and queer, I relate heavily to Ste. The questioning and denial that is heavily apparent in one’s head, the constant state of worry if anyone were to find out, and the gratification when finally accepting their existence is valid.” Jones said.

Beautiful Thing is directed by award-winning director Barry Park whose recent productions include the iconic gay play The Boys in the Band, as well as Hay Fever, Arcadia, Present Laughter and August: Osage County.

Park has long wanted to direct Beautiful Thing, having enjoyed watching previous stage productions and the 1996 film adaptation.

“It’s a beautiful, tender, compassionate comedy that captures so effectively the tenderness and excitement of first love, and the joy of acceptance and personal growth,” Park said.

The original 1993 production was staged at the Bush Theatre in London, toured in the West End, adapted into a 1996 movie also written by Harvey, and was recently named by the British Film Institute as one of the 30 best LGBT movies of all time.

“Engrossing and heart-warming, the play focuses on two damaged boys and the love that heals them, portraying the tension and beauty of a secret adolescent love in a time and place when gay relationships weren’t generally accepted,” Park said.

“The characters are interesting and delicately detailed, with genuine voices. There is absorbing conflict, aching, soul-searching emotion and clever, amusing teenage banter.”

“Jamie, the central character, a shy, sensitive teenager who dislikes sports and is often bullied at school, has a secret crush on athletic Ste, the boy next door.”

“Ste, who is having a rough time at home, being beaten by his alcoholic father and drug-dealing brother, is allowed to stay over at his neighbour, Jamie’s place after an incident with his abusive father,” Park said.

“There, the boys grow close, and a tender loving relationship gradually develops between them. When revealed, it is a life-changing event for them and their tight-knit community.”

“The three other characters who offer much-needed emotional support are integral to the plot,” Park said.

“Leah, who hangs out with Jamie, is a quirky, back-chatting Mama Cass-wannabee. Expelled from school, she sunbathes, sings, takes drugs and rails against the world.”

“Sandra, Jamie’s caring single mum with a heart of gold, is a struggling, hard-working barmaid who longs for a better life.”

“And middle-class, pot smoking Tony, Sandra’s latest young boyfriend, is a neo-hippy artist who, although an amusing fish out of water, does his best to be helpful.”

The play also features the music of Mama Cass, best known as part of 60’s group the Mamas and the Papas.

The Old Mill production features Stacey Broomhead, Cooper Gray, Orla Poole, Matthew Jones and Ashvath Singh Kunadi.

Beautiful Thing will run at the Old Mill Theatre, Mends Street, South Perth 7.30pm 11 to 12, 16 to 19, 24 to 26 March 2022, and 2pm 13 and 20 March. Book at TryBooking.

Source: Media Release

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