Review of Beautiful Thing

See Magazine

Publication Date: 17 August, 2009

By Stacey Lawrence

★★★★ out of 5

Warm and wonderful is the feeling you’ll leave Walterdale’s production of A Beautiful Thing [sic] with, and it is despite all odds. Despite a script heavy with insults, despite the dreary circumstances of the lives of its characters, the knowledge that their futures are going to be a hard climb and their present is still fraught with hardship, you leave feeling happy for them. Stripped down of its witty trappings this show is a love story of the purest form.

It’s about family, the kind you form of your own volition when circumstances throw you together. Friendships you draw strength from, love you can find yourself in. This is a coming out story. So natural that it feels more like we’re eavesdropping on these people than watching their performance. And it’s funny! I laughed — a lot. Unexpectantly and unabashedly.

The foundation of the greatness of this show lies in Jonathan Harvey’s brilliant script.  Add a cast of strong actors with strong South London accents — I admit the accents take a little getting used to, but in only minutes you’ll clue into most of what they’re talking about, and be laughing at their wit.

Set in the drabbest of neighborhoods in London in the early ‘90s, a time when  being gay was controversial, these actors warm up the bleak set. Doran Werner and Joel Taras play the two boys with innocence and endearing lightness. When they’re alone together you watch all those layers of defences slip away and realize that their witty banter is simply their shield from the harsh world that surrounds them.

Amelia Duplessis plays Sandra, an explosive, hard working, single mother who beats her son for nothing more than the cutting insults she’s been throwing at him. And you’ll be appalled, yes, but there’s such a decency of character to the woman who feeds and houses the neighbour’s boy after he’s been beaten himself, and a joy of spirit behind her high-pitched accent, that makes you like her anyway.

Maura Frunza plays a dynamic Leah who is strong, sharp and vulnerable — and she can sing.  Her voice is full of the emotion her character refuses to reveal. Randy Brososky’s Tony is calm, confident, caring and you’ll laugh every time he’s on stage.  At one point he opens the door in super short shorts and Sandra’s silky housecoat, casual as can be. It’s hilarious. A walking reminder that life, even in the bleakest of circumstances can be colourful and beautiful.

A Beautiful Thing [sic] is gritty, hard to watch at times, heartwarming and beautiful.  A compelling journey to both joy and misery and a reminder of the love you can find at both destinations.

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