Trafalgar Studios 2
Opening Night – 10 April 2017
“A beautiful, touching story that’s so much more than just another coming of age tale.”
After a short stint at The Hope Theatre in 2015, 46 Beacon makes its West End debut in the rather snug Trafalgar Studios 2. A semi-autobiographical work by playwright Bill Rosenfield, 46 Beacon (the curious title is the address where the play is set) is a two hander set in a small studio apartment.
Robert (Jay Taylor) is a British actor who through reasons mainly of his own making, has been forced to get work in a Boston Theatre. There he meets Alan (Oliver Coopersmith), a teenage theatre worker.
Inviting him back to his room, Robert flatters Alan, plies him with drink leading to the inevitable; the sexual awakening of Alan. This sounds almost like a tale of grooming and an older man taking advantage of a confused young man, and you could easily view it as such. However 46 Beacon is much more than that. On a deeper level it explores issues that probably everyone has encountered – the ‘first time’, coping with a troubled relationship, handling rejection.
This is about two gay men, but it’s not so much a coming out story as it could so easily be written for a straight couple. It’s an extremely touching tale that focuses on life’s insecurities for a couple miles apart in age, social background and their viewpoints on what is important in life.
Full of humour (loved the opening description of gay life in the 1970s ‘there was no AIDS to worry about, just crabs’) and full of genuine warmth and emotion. It’s nice to see a play with gay characters feature realistic people and scenarios – currently too many plays feature only muscled youngsters living for club culture.
Casting is spot on – Jay Taylor plays Robert excellently as the manipulating, yet never forceful, older man and Oliver Coopersmith’s portrayal of Alan shines with youthful naivety. A cute little 70s set (Ruth Hall) adds to the overall cosiness of the piece.
Almost fifty years after it’s set, this story is still relevant and the issues raised as fresh as ever. A beautiful, touching story that’s so much more than just another coming of age tale.
Photography by Pete Le May
Is at Trafalgar Studios 2 until 29th April