Jamie (Oliver Lee), Ste (Jonathan Howard) and their friend Leah (Kerry Stacey) spend much of their time wandering around the confinements of a tower block dreaming of a better life. Jamie and his mum, Sandra (Marie Critchley) share a love/hate relationship not helped by the lad's constant truanting. Ste has to cope with an abusive father and Leah day-dreams to the music of Mama Cass as she struggles with the label "excluded from school."
This is far from a grim slice of life though, as Jamie and Ste realise that their feelings run far deeper than 'just good friends' and a beautiful love story develops. Lee and Howard convey the touching moments of first love extremely well. These talented two also provide comedy, pathos and inner pain as they struggle to face the fact that they are gay. Harvey's upbeat writing enables them to get beyond the usual clichés associated with 'coming out'.
These two actors are supported superbly by Stacey's hilarious, touching turn as misunderstood neighbour Leah, Critchley's multi-layered single mum Sandra and real scene stealer Andonis Anthony as Tony, Sandra's boyfriend. This actor's body language goes beyond the realm of a Mancunian stereotype as his character struggles to fit in, surrounded by outcasts within society, slowly realising that he is not one.
Director Marcus Romer relocates the play to Manchester almost seamlessly. Countless references to key areas within the city prove tiresome but also illustrate that this story could be set on any housing estate in the U.K. This two-hour production races by as Romer uses DVD projection, a vibrant soundtrack with the added attraction of the apt "Beautiful" by Christina Aguilera.
Laura McEwen's simple but effective set design evokes the claustrophobia of the tower block, an unusual backdrop for such a touching romance which encourages the audience to "Dream A Little Dream". Judging by the enthusiastic applause on the night I went, theatregoers will be captivated by this very beautiful thing.
- Glenn Meads (reviewed at the Octagon, Bolton)