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Rupert Street Lonely Hearts Club

“A well-balanced revival”

Jonathan Harvey’s break out play Beautiful Thing, first performed 25 years ago, showcased his keen ear for naturalistic dialogue.

Originally commissioned for the National, his 1995 play Rupert Street Lonely Hearts Club is a reminder of his ability to write incisive, sympathetic dialogue though the subject matter is far darker.

Shaun is falling apart while his girlfriend is away though he’s just about holding it together with the help of his older brother Marti. It’s a prickly relationship, as Marti is battling his own demons and things are not helped by the neighbours, an interfering, if well-meaning bunch.

Harvey conveys the brothers dysfunctional co-dependency with a remarkably light touch, aided by the witty rapport between Hal Geller, as the acerbic Marti, and Tom Whittaker, making a promising debut, as Shaun.

In order to make the play work director Steven Dexter needs to balance Harvey’s free flowing humour and the undercurrent of depression, mental-illness and loneliness that gives the play its edge.

There are many plates that need to be spun, and Dexter balances the natural humour provided by Amy Dunn’s needy George with the unpredictable nature of Phoebe Vigor’s troubled Clarine. He finds the truth in all these oddball characters, and in doing so amplifies the emotional weight of the final scene.

There are similarities to Mike Leigh’s Abigail’s Party and these are echoed in David Shields’ detailed, claustrophobic traverse set that makes the audience feel part of the vegetarian dinner party from hell. A more accurate parallel however might be found in Ayckbourn’s early work, where he detailed the condition of the middle classes with as much care, love and understanding as Harvey does with his working class characters.

Beautiful Thing review at Tobacco Factory Theatres, Bristol – ‘as uplifting as ever’

Production Details
Production nameRupert Street Lonely Hearts Club
VenueAbove The Stag
StartsOctober 19, 2018
EndsNovember 18, 2018
Running time2hrs 10mins
AuthorJonathan Harvey
DirectorSteven Dexter
Set designerDavid Shields
Lighting designerJamie Platt
Sound designerAndy Hill
CastAmy Dunn, Hal Geller, Myles Devonte, Phoebe Vigor, Tom Whittaker
Production managerAndrew Beckett
Stage managerToby Hillaby
ProducerAbove The Stag
VerdictWell-balanced revival of Jonathan Harvey’s claustrophobic family drama
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Paul Vale

Paul Vale

Paul Vale

Paul Vale

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