Jonathan Harvey’s plays have frequently graced the stage at Above the Stag. The new venue opened with a production of his play Beautiful Thing and last year the theatre staged a revival of his 1995 play Rupert Street Lonely Hearts Club. So Boom Bang-a-Bang, also from 1995 and originally directed by Kathy Burke, seems like a natural progression, especially this close to Eurovision weekend.
It’s far and away Harvey’s most traditionally crafted comedy, occasionally slipping into farce and packed with quirky characters reminiscent of a Ray Cooney classic. Lee is throwing his first Eurovision party since his partner Michael died. Not all the guests are on their best behaviour though and a nosey neighbour gatecrashes.
Above the Stag’s associate director Andrew Beckett handles the farce with assurance but it’s the quieter moments that make his production a success. Beckett treats the personal dramas that form the backdrop of Harvey’s play with respect and it’s a much better production for it.
Lee, sensitively played by Adam McCoy, is still in mourning and his moments of introspection and self-doubt punctuate the revelry. Tori Hargreaves gives a delicately layered performance as Lee’s sister Wendy. There is so much going on behind her eyes – without saying a word, she foreshadows the storm that blights the party. There are broader characters, too, such as Sean Huddlestan’s adorable space cadet Roy and Joshua Coley as the slightly seedy neighbour Norman, but Beckett gets the balance just right.