Jonathan Harvey’s landmark play, Beautiful Thing, was captured live by Digital Theatre during its acclaimed West End run at the Arts Theatre in May 2013.
Beautiful Thing is a glorious urban love story between two young men set on an inner-city housing estate. It tells the story of teenager Jamie’s relationship with classmate and neighbour Ste. Together the two boys find comedy, warmth and the music of Mama Cass through their loud-mouthed next-door neighbour Leah. The play exquisitely depicts what it is to be sixteen, in the first flush of love, and full of optimism.
Celebrating its twentieth anniversary year, this production of Beautiful Thing also travelled to Liverpool Playhouse and West Yorkshire Playhouse, completing its national tour at the Theatre Royal, Brighton. Beautiful Thing was produced in the West End and on tour by Tom O'Connell for QNQ Ltd.
Jonathan Harvey wrote Beautiful Thing when he was just 24. It premiered at the Bush Theatre in 1993 and sold out its five-week run before transferring to the Donmar Warehouse, and then the Duke of York’s, eventually winning its author an Olivier Award nomination and the John Whiting Award.
A screen adaptation of the play was released in 1996 by Channel 4 films, which went on to be a cult hit.
Over its twenty-year history, Beautiful Thing has featured in the careers of many actors including Jonny Lee Miller, Hugh Bonneville, Philip Glennister, Andrew Garfield, and Rhys Ifans, and has been produced over twenty five times worldwide, with international dates in China, France, Canada, Australia and Holland.
CAST INCLUDES: Suranne Jones, Zaraah Abrahams, Oliver Farnworth, Jake Davies, Danny-Boy Hatchard.
“Beautiful Thing was a nineties-phenomena and saw Jonathan Harvey break new ground with a story that captures emerging love in challenged circumstances with intimacy, compassion and belonging. Its warmth, honesty and emotional exuberance make it a play that has subsequently crossed national and cultural boundaries.”
He added: “Its role in the development of contemporary British drama made it an obvious piece to bring to an international audience. The response to the 20th anniversary production demonstrates the social and dramatic relevance remains undiminished and we're delighted to have captured it.”
‘As a drama, Beautiful Thing hasn’t much of a narrative arc. What it has — apart from a comic relish for language reminiscent of Alan Bennett — is a yearning sweetness and a kind of tough innocence. Charm is not, on the whole, a very durable quality, but the charm of Beautiful Thing remains remarkably well preserved.’
‘Harvey's debut play is, like all his work, written entirely without side, and with an irresistible exuberance and open-heartedness. At its centre is the touching relationship between 15-year-old Jamie (Jake Davies) and Ste (Danny-Boy Hatchard). The boys live in adjacent flats on a Thamesmead housing estate. Jamie prefers Cagney & Lacey to football, while Ste is a school sports star; underneath his T-shirt is evidence of the violence regularly inflicted by his dad.
This is a play about feeling like an outsider: Zaraah Abrahams's bright, stroppy, Mama Cassloving Leah, excluded from school, rails against a world that is blind to her potential. It's also about community and love. Jamie's struggling single mum, Sandra (Suranne Jones), a barmaid with aspirations, has borrowed her parenting style from a lioness. Sandra's relationship with Leah is intriguing, too: built on trading insults but underpinned by mutual recognition.
The venue works against intimacy, but Nikolai Foster's beautifully acted revival is totally attuned to the play's swirling mix of emotion and hilarity. This generous, optimistic play remains a beautiful little thing.’
‘Jonathan Harvey’s iconic 90s play about love blossoming between two young boys on a Thamesmead estate has lost none of its relevance or humour over the decades. Originally mounted in 2013 to celebrate its 20th anniversary, Nikolai Foster’s production retains Colin Richmond’s simple, composite set but includes a fresh cast bringing new energy and insight to this urban fairy tale.
Fresh, energetic cast breathe new life into Nikolai Foster’s production but ultimately the play is the star here.’