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Posts Tagged ‘Oliver Farnsworth’

Another show I had no plans to see until I saw Jumpers for Goalposts, a lovely new play which feels much like it, which prompted me to catch this 20th anniversary revival of Jonathan Harvey’s play before it closed. I’d seen the premiere of this heartwarming, funny and moving play at the Bush and the 2006 outing at the Sound Theatre and I enjoyed this one just as much.

Nikolai Foster’s new production keeps the setting in early 90’s Thamesmead. Single mum and barmaid Sandra is devoted to her teenage son Jamie. Her latest man is socially clumsy but charming artist Tony. Spiky teenage neighbour Leah is obsessed with sex and Mama Cass and has been expelled from school. Other teenage neighbour Ste lives with his dad and brothers; his reward for looking after them is to get beaten senseless. He takes refuge at Sandra’s where his friendship with, and comfort from, Jamie develops into first love.

It’s a timeless story which doesn’t feel the slightest bit dated. You can’t help but love all of the onstage characters, whatever their irritations and quirks; each struggling to make their way in the world or find themselves. The tough life of a singe parent, a dispossessed child, parental and sibling abuse and most importantly coming to terms with your sexuality are all explored sensitively in what is one of the great life affirming feel-good shows. The dialogue crackles and it holds you in its grip from the off.

The Beautiful Thing alumni is impressive. Sophie Stanton played Sandra in both 1993 and 2006. At the Bush, we had Philip Glenister and Jonny Lee Miller no less. In 2006, Leo Bill and Andrew Garfield picked up the baton. Here we have one of Coronation Street’s finest, Suranne Jones, a terrific performance which makes Sandra a bit more feisty and a bit more loving. Oliver Farnsworth’s excellent Tony seems to be a touch cooler, a hippy out of time and in the wrong place. Zaraah Abrahams’ Leah hides her loyalty and warmth underneath bucket-loads of attitude. Above all though, a totally believable journey for Jamie and Ste played with great delicacy and sensitivity by Jake Davies (also great in London Wall at the Finborough recently)  & Danny-Boy Hatchard (an astonishing professional debut).

I’m so glad I caught the last night of this finely cast and beautifully staged revival. Happy Anniversary – see you at the next one no doubt.

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This is a stage adaptation of an autobiographical book, published posthumously, by an Australian man who died of AIDS. Seeing it now, 15 years after the final events it portrays adds a historical perspective to a very personal story.

It’s a a love story which has two very different halves – the first a very funny and rather charming tale of a 15-year relationship from teens to late 20’s and the second the very sad and deeply moving story of the final years until one died of AIDS eight years later.

You can tell that Matt Zeremes as Tim and Guy Edmonds as John have played these roles on-and-off for four years because they seem to inhabit their characters and have real chemistry between them. Four other actors (Kath & Kim’s Jane Turner, musicals man Simon Burke, Oliver Farnsworth and Anna Skellern) play all of the other roles – up to 15 each – with huge versatility and brio. Jane Turner, in particular, can change characters of different sex and age with just a quick wig change! David Berthold’s fast paced staging allows them to cover much ground whilst still developing the characters and without trivialising the story.

Though I haven’t read Timothy Conigrave’s book, he was clearly very frank and seems to have been rather hard on himself. Tommy Murphy’s play tells a very moving, sad and timeless love story with much humour and little sentimentality and still manages to look back to this extraordinary period in social history objectively.

You’ll laugh out loud at the outrageous and often rude frankness, but you’ll probably shed a tear in the end. I found it a very rewarding evening in the theatre.

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