BOTTOM LINE: A sweet tale about two young boys who discover love unexpectedly, produced by Nicu's Spoon, a theatre company that quite obviously cares a great deal about the play.
The New York Post described the Beautiful Thing in 1999 as "a sharp, tart English comedy of manners." First produced in 1993, the play features Jamie and Ste: school friends and flat neighbors in Thamesmead in South-East London. They find themselves spending the night in the same cramped bed when Ste's dad starts beating on him a bit too frequently. Jamie's mum insists he stay over and Jamie and Ste blossom into a sweet boyhood friendship of trust and curiosity. Eventually, they share an intimate kiss and embarrassingly fall into a more secret relationship. As the other flat neighbors realize their homosexual relationship, the boys' friendship is tested and by the end endures.
Nicu's Spoon obviously has a great desire to produce this play - this production has a personal sense of ownership and love put into it. The set is quaint and functional, the sound design follows the script with respect and appropriateness, and the lighting design is simple and effective. The roles are cast with Nicu's Spoon own company members and they are clearly having a grand time of it wading in the lower class British dialects and campiness of the same British lower class humor.
A shining light in the production is Leah, played by Rebecca Lee Lerman, who steals the show with her bright spark of a Mama Cass fan - no she's more than a fan, Leah invokes the most serious and loving aficionado who lives for Mama's music and sings it often in this show. And every time she did, I smiled. The rest of the cast does an admirable job with dialects and intents, but Lerman easily makes the show.
But that's not why you'll see this production of Beautiful Thing: at its heart is a sweet story about two boys who find love unexpectedly and without the immediate acceptance of their world around them. But they do find the acceptance we all want them to find. They do and we're all the happier for it.
(Beautiful Thing plays at the Spoon Theater, 38 West 38th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues on the 5th Floor, through July 25th (no show on July 17th). Performances are Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm. Tickets are $18 and are now available online at www.spoontheater.org. Tickets may also be purchased in-person at the Theatre Row Box Office, 30 minutes prior to the show.)