Beautiful Thing: The Arts Theatre Soho: Theatre Review

May 7, 2013


To celebrate its twentieth anniversary year, the award winning BEAUTIFUL THING returns to the West End’s Arts Theatre before touring and then visiting Brighton’s Theatre Royal.  This uplifting and heart-warming new production is directed by Nikolai Foster, designed by Colin Richmond and stars Susanne Jones.

BEAUTIFUL THING is a glorious urban love story between two young men coming to grips with their sexuality and the effect it has on the people in their lives. It tells the story of teenager Jamie’s relationship with classmate and neighbour Ste, who together find comedy, warmth and the music of Mama Cass through their loud-mouthed next door neighbour Leah. The play exquisitely captures what it is to be 16, coming of age, and falling for your first love.

I think I was the only person in the packed house who hadn’t seen the film but still knew the love that most people have for it. This was a great night out, full of warm humour, sharp social commentary and most of it still pertinent twenty years on from when it was written. We may have come a long way with LGBT rights but it’s still a struggle for young working class people to come out, this play shows the way that love, tenderness and compassionate can overcome prejudice and intolerance.  It’s funny and sad and all the things you want from a gay love story, a bit of camp, some great bitching and a happy ever after ending.

Beautiful ThingJake Davis as Jamie and Danny-Boy Hatchard are endearing and believable as the two young lovers, Suranne Jones portrayal of mother Sandra was a joy from the moment she opens her mouth and (understudy) Nancy Sullivan as Leah the bolshie teenager from next door with the hidden heart of gold was simply perfect. Oliver Farnworth as spaced out lover boy Tony was also good, his comedy timing is perfect and he spends most of the time undressed. The simple pared down set based on a south London council estate and lightning allowed the acting to shine and the soundscape and music just added to the perfect atmosphere on stage.

It’s such a sweet play, and this reinterpretation, although showing its age a little from its built in references to the 1980’s politics and people still has the power to move an audience.

This is a wonderfully evocative play full of striking social comment all wrapped up in a gentle and honest romantic love story.  This revival of this well loved play delighted the packed audience at the theatre this evening, brought a tear to my companion’s eye and left us all feeling a lot happier as we left.


Until 25 May, then 10-15 June in Brighton

To book ticket for the London run until 26st May see the website here: