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Beautiful Thing a comedy with emotional depth
Tuesday 4th September 2018 @ 22:39 by Nigel Skinner
Ashton Entertainment Showbiz Tameside

CAST AND CREW: The team at Guide Bridge Theatre bringing Beautiful Thing to the stage all this week.

Intimacy, comedy, and love are stitched together in an emotionally charged story of heartache.

Set in the corridor of a London tower block – Jamie, his mother, and their neighbours, all in some way live on the fringe of society.

Jonathan Harvey’s comedy- romance is the story of a teenage boy coming to terms with his sexuality – and his relationship with the boy next door.

When coming to terms means ‘coming out’, the stakes are huge.

Jamie (Jake Hankey) handles this emotional weight well, in a tense moment where he reveals to his mother (Sam Bates) that he is gay.

Hankey’s subtlety in handling this trying scene, and others like it, add a dimension of realism into an otherwise slapstick piece.

It is the gravity of these moments that really carry the play.

It was unfortunate that some of the more emotionally charged moments were undermined by a number of production problems on the opening night.

Certain technical issues made for a distracting first half, with part of a wall unfortunately falling over, and Cass Elliot’s song California Earthquake being left on repeat from the previous scene transition, and over the entire duration of a scene.

The cast also struggled to maintain cockney accents, an issue that could have been avoided by allowing the actors to use their own voices (and perhaps swapping out Woolwich to Withington) without taking away from the story.

But opening night issues aside – the production’s minimalist set allowed for slick scene transitions, and helped the comedic elements avoid the descent into the realms of cheap sit-com.

Director Mike McCaw indulges heavily in these slapstick passages, and though the timing could have been improved, he did not fail to gain a few laughs from the audience.

This play is full of eccentrics and eccentricities, from its heavily comedic styling it is hard to believe that it would offer quite the level of emotional depth that it does.

Ed Parry, a new face to Guide Bridge, plays the part of Ste, Jamie’s love interest and next door neighbour, and tackles the part with respect and sensitivity.

Sam Bates’ real life daughter Molly Griffiths joins her on the stage to play Leah and completing the cast Gavin Stamper plays Sandra’s hippy boyfriend Tony.

Beautiful Thing is at the Guide Bridge Theatre, Audenshaw, until September 8. Box office: 0161 330 8078.

Review by JAMES FOX