Rehearsals are under way at a Chester theatre for the staging of a hard-hitting but poignant play about the trials and tribulations of young love, bullying and coming out.
Written by the creator of cult camp sitcom Gimme Gimme Gimme and Coronation Street script writer Jonathan Harvey, the play Beautiful Thing, which contains strong language and adult themes, will be staged by Tip Top Productions at the Forum Studio Theatre from Wednesday, April 4 to Saturday, April 7 at 7.30pm, with a matinee performance at 2.30pm on Saturday, April 7.
Set in a low-rise block of flats in Thamesmead, London, it tells the story of 16-year-old Jamie who lives with his mum Sandra and her younger boyfriend Tony.
Living next door is the rowdy Leah, who has been expelled from school and spends her days sunning herself and listening to Mama Cass.
On the other side is Ste, also 16. His father’s anger means that he often hides out in Jamie and Sandra’s flat, spending the night there to escape being beaten. One night he is so badly beaten by his brother that he takes refuge with Jamie and Sandra and it is from here that the story really begins.
The play’s director Simon Phillips said: “Ste and Jamie start off top-and-tailing in Jamie’s bed, since there’s nowhere else to sleep, and things progress from there.
“Jonathan Harvey cleverly unfolds their tentative, awkward relationship with delicacy and with joy.
“Beautiful Thing’s crisply authentic dialogue darts between aching, soul-searching emotion and sharp, winning comedy, perfectly capturing the thrill of a first love.”
Cast in the roles of Jamie and Ste are two experienced young actors - 16-year-olds Jake Cross as Jamie and Finn Hibbert as Ste.
Jake, a former Queen’s Park High pupil currently studying English literature and performing arts at St John Deane’s College, has appeared in several productions for Tip Top including most recently The Witches at the Forum Studio Theatre.
Finn recently appeared in The Witches alongside Jake and last year could be seen treading the boards at Theatr Clwyd in Mold in the Dee and Alyn Gilbert and Sullivan Society production of Kiss Me Kate.
Simon Phillips said: “They have worked extremely hard to bring these two characters to life and to bring out the humour and pathos of the play as well as dealing with some quite challenging and heart wrenching scenes.
“Jake and Finn both deliver stunningly well observed performances and we hope that will come across to our audiences.”
Completing the cast are Sally Dillon as Jamie’s mum Sandra, Theo Spofforth as Tony, Sandra’s toyboy lover, and Brogan Craine as Leah.
For details, visit www.chestertheatre.co.uk or call 01244 341296.