Mauckingbird — G Philly‘s 2013 pick for Best Theater Troupe — is beginning its 2014 season with Jonathan Harvey’s Beautiful Thing, The coming-of-age story — which debuted on American stages 20 years ago this year — concerns the blossoming relationship of two teenage boys growing up on the wrong side of the tracks.
Fifteen-year-old Jamie and his school mate Ste live in a violence- and poverty-ridden district of South East London. One night, after he’s beaten by his alcoholic father, Ste goes to stay with Jaime and his family. That’s when a simple kiss between the two sparks a budding romance that allows a glimmer of hope to shine on their otherwise gloomy worlds.
Beautiful Thing is directed by Mauckingbird Artistic Director Peter Reynolds, who staged the show 10 years ago when he was a grad student at Temple. He explains his reasons for coming back to it this many years later: “This is one of my all-time favorite stories, something I didn’t have as a young gay person: a sweet love story between two young, gay men. … “It isn’t bubblegum, but it is heartening that amidst such a volatile situation we can be reminded that you have to be who you are, and love who you love. Harvey has crafted marvelous characters who are coping with first love in a most challenging environment. He uses specificity and superb storytelling rather than political platitudes to make his point; I have tremendous admiration for this play.”
Reynolds cast the play with a handful of Temple Theater students, including Griffin Back, who starred in Mauckingbird’s 2012 adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing; company newcomer Kevin Murray; and recent grad Sofie Yavorksy, who plays Jamie and Ste’s neighbor Leah.