Boston in the 1970s, at the residential hotel 46 Beacon, is where we see the story of Robert and Alan unfold. It’s a coming-of-age and coming-out play, all set in a hotel room. It was always going to be an interesting one.
Robert, played by the believable Matthew Baldwin, quickly establishes the personal atmosphere of the show, making the audience feel included and knowledgeable. This direct address gives a chance for some witty, comedic statements that the majority of the audience seem to clearly relate to. We know exactly what is going to happen in the scene that follows, after he introduces us to his handsome, young friend, but this only adds to the shrewdly intertwined dialogue. Alan, Jak Ford-Lane, is exactly how we want him to be; full of innocence, awkwardness and standing trembling in his own skin. He is the image of youth, which makes it even more plausible for him to be convinced in any way Robert chooses. Robert and Alan, Baldwin and Ford-Lane, are in complete harmony with each other in their performance and both give authentic characterisations, giving life to the script.
The script of this show is witty and timely in parts, bringing moments of pure wit into the works. This helps to liven up the production as a whole as the one setting and the show lacks a crisis or any major, unforeseen development of the characters. Saying this, the tender, sweet flashes between the pair make the lapses in story forgivable and offer some truly touching moments that keep the audience engrossed. Oh, and the countless musical theatre references were definitely enjoyed by all.
We come to realise throughout this play that it’s not just the wisdom that the old can offer the young, but also the purity and carelessness that the young can offer the old. There is a cyclic effect on Robert and Alan’s story, that appears to parallel another of Robert’s, and this gives a feeling that these two characters really have come away as different and improved men.
I definitely wasn’t the target audience for this production, however, that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it at all. After about an hour the characters and dialogue got a bit too repetitive and the little development there was of each character stopped almost entirely. It had all the ingredients it needed- it was steamy, gentle and had an amazing cast- but I felt 46 Beacon was somewhat unfulfilled.
46 Beacon is playing The Hope Theatre until 12 October. For more information and tickets, see The Hope Theatre website.