CANCELLED: Previewed 3 June 2015, Opened 8 June 2015, Closed 11 July 2015 at the Arts Theatre in London
PLEASE NOTE: This production was returning to London as the culmination of a UK regional tour which, due to poor and uneven ticket sales, was curtailed, with the knock-on effect of the London run was also sadly completely cancelled. Ticket holders are now being refunded.
The return of Nikolai Foster's acclaimed revival of Jonathan Harvey's play Beautful Thing in London for a strictly limited five week season.
Set on an inner city housing estate, the story focuses on the relationship between classmates and neighbours Jamie and Ste and the love story that slowly develops. Together the two boys find comedy, warmth and the music of Mama Cass through their loud-mouthed next door neighbour, Leah, along with Jamie's mum, Sandra - the local barmaid - and her neo-hippy boyfriend, Tony.
The cast features Charlie Brooks as 'Sandra', Sam Jackson as 'Jamie', Thomas Law as 'Ste', Vanessa Babirye as 'Leah' and Gerard McCarthy as 'Tony'. This production is directed by Nikolai Foster with designs by Colin Richmond, lighting by Ben Cracknell and sound by George Dennis. Charlie Brooks is best known for her role as 'Janine Butcher' in BBC TV's EastEnders. Nikolai Foster's directing credits include Flashdance the Musical at London's Shaftesbury Theatre in 2010 and the original pre-West End production of the musical All the Fun of the Fair. PLEASE NOTE: due to language, this show is only recommended for ages 12 and above.
Jonathan Harvey's play Beautful Thing had it's Premiere at the Bush Theatre, based at Shepherd's Bush in West London, in July 1993. The play was then staged in March 1994 at the West End's Donmar Warehouse for a limited four week run before transferring in September 1994 to the Duke of York's Theatre when it enjoyed a four month run. A movie version was released in 1996. This revival production, directed by Nikolai Foster, was originally staged here at the Arts Theatre in April 2013 for a six week season as a '20th Anniversary' production when the cast featured Suranne Jones as 'Sandra', Jake Davies as 'Jamie', Danny-Boy Hatchard as 'Ste', Zaraah Abrahams as 'Leah' and Oliver Farnworth as 'Tony'.
When this production was originally seen here at the Arts Theatre in April 2013, Fiona Mountford in the London Evening Standard highlighted that "there's an air of beguiling innocence to the small but vibrant world Jonathan Harvey creates on the landing between three flats. It's gritty but not bleak; it's a council estate with hanging baskets... Nikolai Foster allows scenes to drift a little unfocusedly but elicits uniformly strong performances." Dominic Maxwell in the Times noted that, "yes, the references to Richard and Judy, Cagney and Lacey and East 17 remind us that Jonathan Harvey's play is 20 years old. But otherwise this depiction of two schoolboys waking up to their love for each other in a South London council block retains the wit and power that made it such a success in its first flush of youth... Nikolai Foster's production finds the right serio-comic tone as it shows first love blooming in secret while Sandra and her new middle-class boyfriend Tony indulge in public displays of affection," concluding that "the show handles difficult moments — the transition from friends to lovers; the confrontation between mother and son about his secrets — with sensitivity but not sentimentality. Jonathan Harvey makes sure to get his wisecracks and his soul-baring in the right proportion." Robert Shore in the London Metro wrote that "Nikolai Foster's production draws unforced performances from the young leads," adding that "the passage of the years is having an impact on the script. The central love story may be universal and timeless but the particularity of Jamie and Ste's world is largely conjured out of popular-culture references. These were box-fresh bck in 1993 but many will be lost on younger audiences. As a result, Beautiful Thing is in danger of losing its immediacy for a new generation of spectators nd turning into a largely nostalgic pleasure for an older one." Simon Edge in the Daily Express described how "there had been a long tradition of gay dramas always ending in tears and Jonathan Harvey deliberately set out to tell an uplifting urban fairytale to show that love really can conquer all even in the supposedly toughest working–class environment." Lyn Gardner in the Guardian said that "Jonathan Harvey's debut play is, like all his work, written entirely without side, and with an irresistible exuberance and open-heartedness... Nikolai Foster's beautifully acted revival is totally attuned to the play's swirling mix of emotion and hilarity. This generous, optimistic play remains a beautiful little thing." Jane Shilling in the Daily Telegraph commented that "while the writing for Jamie and Ste is tenderly naturalistic, the characters of Sandra and Tony pursue an edgy flirtation with soap operatic caricature... What it has is a yearning sweetness and a kind of tough innocence. Charm is not, on the whole, a very durable quality, but the charm of Beautiful Thing remains remarkably well preserved."
Beautiful Thing in London at the Arts Theatre previewed from 3 June 2015, opened on 8 June 2015 and closed on 11 July 2015 - PLEASE NOTE this production was CANCELLED prior to opening.