Paul T Davies reviews Beautiful Thing, presented by Pride Players at the Headgate Theatre


Colchester’s Pride Players, due the pandemic, have waited three years to stage Jonathan Harvey’s Urban Fairy-tale of teenage gay love among the Bermondsey high rises.

It’s a rare LGBTQ working class story that is funny, gritty, and ends on such a positive high as Jamie and Ste come out to each other, and then to Jamie’s fiery mum, Sandra.

It’s been well worth the wait as the company hold the script dearly in their hands and hearts and play out a true classic.

The cast are excellent. Charlotte Still is outstanding as Sandra, down to earth, as is her language, but with a heart brimming with love for her son.

She is a lioness protecting her cub, vicious in her views of next-door neighbour teen Leah, but a true mother figure.

Her relationship with son Jamie is beautifully played out with an outstanding performance from Daniel Finch as Jamie, capturing perfectly teenage gawkiness and angst, but quietly determined to be the man he will become.


Brooke Parratt is a show stealing Mama Cass loving Leah, and Ciaran Ford portrays Ste’s vulnerability perfectly, (he is beaten by both his father and brother, the play is a lot grittier than it first seems).

Completing the cast is Roman Crowther as Sandra’s new love interest, Tony, nicely avoiding the hippy stereotype that can trip up this character, making him human and believable.

Co-directors Benjamin Powell and Jenna Saiz-Abo Henriksen wisely let the play and actors inhabit the story, and there are so many beautiful moments in which the production reflects on the burgeoning relationship.

It’s true that a couple of the cast members are too old for the teenagers they portray, and it’s a tribute to them that the characters shine with conviction.

The affection for the play from the audience was heart warming, it’s not just an LGBTQ story, it’s a story of real love among real people. A gorgeous triumph.