Jonathan Harvey is more widely known for scripting the BBC comedy Gimme Gimme Gimme, but before Tom and Linda were a glint in his eye he wrote the play Beautiful Thing. The original London production was a huge success, and even spawned a hit movie of the same name. Beautiful Thing, and its contemporary, What's Wrong With Angry?, broke new ground with the gay storyline. No longer were homosexuals sidelined or portrayed as gross caricatures, but instead they were young, attractive and not at all camp.
Beautiful Thing is the story of two teenage boys who live next door to each other in London's Thamesmead Estate. Ste is good at sports, popular at school, but bullied by his alcoholic father. Jamie receives his bullying at school, and is a habitual truant because of it. Next door to Jamie is Leah, a constant thorn in the side of Sandra - Jamie's mother.
Ste is yet again abused and Sandra decides to let him sleep over. The lack of a spare bed means Ste has to make do sleeping head-to-toe with Jamie. After the second night of this sleeping arrangement, Jamie finds the courage to show his love for Ste, and also an imaginative use for Peppermint Foot Lotion.
Harvey's script is without doubt strong, but what lets this production down is that it is under-rehearsed. At times you could drive a truck through the dialog, and at other times the actors trample over their lines. Given another week, this may improve dramatically. It's not all bad though. Joseph B Mahon as Jamie, Sam McIlroy as Ste and Lindsey Powell as Leah all show signs of promise. If the show is tightened up, then they would have a production to match any of the UK tours that have gone before.