Jonathan Harvey's acclaimed tale of life on a South London housing estate
seen through the eyes of two young working class gay lads has grown in
popularity since it was written over 10 years ago. It has since been made
into a successful film and now in its current form - a co-production between Pilot Theatre and Bolton's Octagon theatre - the action has moved
from London to Manchester, but the essence of the story remains.
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
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
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,
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
a vibrant soundtrack with the added attraction of the apt "Beautiful" by
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