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Theatre Review: Beautiful Thing lives up to its name at Birmingham Hippodrome (30/03/15)


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“It’s a bit homo-erotic, isn’t it?”, remarks the woman sat next to me. But what else would you expect from a love story between two teenage guys in the age of Princess Diana, salt and vinegar crisps, Thatcher (and Section 28) and poor, poor fashion?

Acknowledging how far the LGBT community has come since the show premiered in 1993 is admirable and important. This was clear with the amount of gay couples in the audience, living in now a slightly more equal society.

Beautiful Thing sets itself within an urban scene, dripping in humour, oozing in feel good vibes and completely drenched in innuendos that makes prude old women out of university students (me). The story is simple, and that’s what’s so effective about it. Two guys, Ste and Jamie, fall in love and face the typical problems of coming out for those in LGBT communities, while exposing narratives of single parent structures and what family is and means. The end. Over 20 years old now, playwright Jonathan Harvey’s presence in LGBT theatre is still to be respected and applauded.

The first kiss between the two was impeccably acted, to the point where it didn’t seem like acting. The silence both on stage and lurking within the auditorium added intensity and emotion to an incredible scene.

Though some of the fight scenes were a little cringe worthy, the show was near on faultless. Honestly, you wouldn’t be able to tell it was a first night. The small cast, of five members, deservedly possess the prestige they do, with Charlie Brooks (Janine Butcher in EastEnders) Thomas Law (The World’s End; EastEnders); Sam Jackson (Skins; Drifters); Gerard McCarthy (The Fall; Hollyoaks) and Vanessa Babirye. See it as what Janine did after Eastenders.

The crowd seemed to lavish in the optimism and rightfully gave the ovation the five deserved. Though dark events take place, Harvey’s script still sings comedy and tease. You leave feeling even prouder to be gay.

Beautiful Thing in Birmingham until 11th April. After that touring to Manchester, Nottingham, Guildford, Northampton, Leicester, West End, Cardiff and concluding in Brighton in July.

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