"Magnificent adaptation of gay classic"
by David Rumelle for remotegoat on 11/05/19

Having read the original novel in the late eighties- I was wary that Kevin Kelly’s stage adaptation of this ground breaking –coming of age-gay classic may be somewhat dated or fail to convey the impact of the novel .
I am very happy to say-my fears were totally unfounded and this splendid new stage production succeeds on numerous levels:
Firstly the adaptation is first class- with a strong ensemble feel to the piece. secondly the staging is particularly fine and third-it features an exceptional 7 strong cast –working as an unit-always onstage observing, commenting or punctuating the important points-(almost in the vein of a Greek chorus.)
Even though the original novel was written in the early 80’s –the adaptation neatly reminds us of the nail in the coffin that was dealt to the gay community in 1988 in the form of section 28.The programme contains the bigoted comments of Baroness Collingtree and the iconic images of Thatcher’s backing of section 28 is projected onto the set at the opening of the show-setting a scene of prejudice and bigotry that our protagonist Ewan faces.
Key facts, dates and emotions are chalked on a blackboard- on the back wall and the simple building block- set (designed by Amy Mitchell) transforms beautifully into every locale or key props. Staging is simple but incredibly effective-particularly a cat’s cradle of phone wires-when Ewan first rings gay switchboard. Even Beer cans are symbolically marked “Queer” and “Straight” to stress the isolation of the central character
Carefully selected period music for scene changes capture beautifully the 80’s mood.
But it is the performances that make this adaptation so moving. Bryan Moriarty is superb in the central role of Ewan. He captures perfectly the journey from isolated teenager to confident young man-balancing his role to perfection. He is never self-indulgent and portrays strength, vulnerability and tender emotion in equal measure-a tour de force indeed.

He is equally matched by Robert Hook’s -fine performance as the confused Leslie.
Equally strong in their performances as Ewan’s parents are Clare Calverley and Martin Teall. Their scenes confronting their son over his sexuality are superb- powerful, highly charged and thought provoking.
In the joint roles of Paul and Robin-David Mc Nair’s characterisations- are fully rounded, truthful and highly emotive.
Lewis Brown’s performance as Ewan’s lover. James is mesmerising- acting as a “conscience” throughout the piece-until his character emerges in the 2nd act. He balances pathos, sincerity and humour on a knife edge and his scene, meeting Ewan’s parents at the end of the play is particularly heart-warming.

Lucy Penrose gives depth and truth to the role of Louise, as well as various other cameos-each superbly characterised.
The acoustics of the old court house in Brighton can make the quieter scenes difficult to hear-but this is a minor quibble in an otherwise faultless production. It must surely go from strength to strength-and I would very much wish to see this show in a studio theatre or in the round.

Director Tim McArthur and writer Kevin Kelly have given us a fine adaptation that makes this 80’s classic seem timeless-as relevant today as when it was written.

Although this was a relatively short run in the Brighton festival-I am confident it will go from strength to strength and I for one can’t wait to see it again in the near future.

Catch it while you can!

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