Theatre and book reviews by Janice Dempsey
The boys, Jamie (Sam Jackson) and Ste (Thomas Law) are both emotionally deprived. Jamie is growing up with his lone mother and a succession of her more or less unsuitable boyfriends, of whom the latest, Tony (Gerard McCarthy), is doing his best to provide the attention Jamie needs though he receives little encouragement from Jamie or from Sandra (Charlie Brooks) his sexually predatory mother. Ste, living with his violent father and his elder brother, is beaten regularly and longs for some evidence of care and attention from his family.. When Sandra offers Ste refuge from his father in her house, the friendship between the two boys becomes a beautiful thing that offers both of them support and emotional escape.
The excellent cast take ownership of their characters’ tedious, unfulfilled lives, where violence is always in the offing as tension and frustration mount. Vanessa Babirye as Lea, the boys’ ex-school friend (“I’m excluded, ain’t I?”) is a delight: feisty, moody, bored, sulky and ebullient by turns, she’s a great foil for the morose Jamie and Sandra the bossy, dismissive chav who nevertheless proves she loves her son. Thomas Law as Ste brings admirable honesty and depth to the role: struggling to overcome his insecurity, afraid of ridicule or worse, he at last trusts the loving physical relationship with Jamie.
Twenty years ago, gay relationships were taboo to an extent that has been somewhat (though not wholly) mitigated in Britain today. This play was notable in 1993 for its lack of sensationalism about homosexuality. Today it still reminds us that love is based on caring and kindness between human beings, whatever their gender. This is a love story full of compassion, warmth and innocence.
© Janice Windle