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Posts Tagged ‘Mary Whitehouse’

I remember the promise shown by Jonathan Harvey’s first major play, Beautiful Thing, 17 years ago at the Bush and have always wondered why he never fulfilled it (though he has written a lot of episodes of Coronation Street!). There have been 7 or 8 OK works, but it has taken until now to truly fulfill that promise in the theatre.

SPOILER ALERT – This is the story of a senior policeman who lives a lie until he is outed by his dead son’s friend, now a famous TV personality. Not only has he denied his own sexuality, but also his son’s death from AIDS. Harvey’s real achievement though is to use this story to present us with a surprisingly lucid 50-year gay social history from Mary Whitehouse’s Festival of light to the return of unsafe sex today with Whitehouse, Margaret Thatcher and Norman Fowler as characters!

It takes a while to get into the non-linear structure, but when you do it becomes a compelling ride. The staging is simple but the 8 actors who play all the roles are superbly versatile (Paula Wilcox makes a convincing Thatcher and Philip Voss an appropriately everagesque Mary Whitehouse!).

It reminded me of Angels in America, but less than half the length with as much depth. There’s a roundedness to it which means that when it ends you feel a great sense of satisfaction with both the storytelling and the presentation of the issues.

A real return to form for Harvey and a very rewarding evening of theatre, but why are there empty seats on a Friday night for work of this quality?

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