10 April 2017
Bill Rosenfield’s play is set in a room in Beacon Street, Boston MA, in 1970. The play sweetly presents an encounter between Robert, a confident British actor in town to perform at the local theatre, and Alan, a young man about to come out of the closet. Rosenfield based the play on his own experience of such a night, and the period is realised perfectly both in the script and in Ruth Hall’s design. The intimacy of Trafalgar Studio Two adds to the cosiness of the piece, which, overall, is a tender encounter that meant huge significance for both men.
As Robert, Jay Taylor is wonderfully confident, not an arrogant actor, but in control of the evening, seducing Alan carefully and tenderly, and revealing not only a perfect body, but Robert’s insecure relationship and defence mechanisms. He is matched perfectly by Oliver Coopersmith as Alan, beautifully insecure, shy, in denial, innocent, yet giving in to his life changing night with the older man. Both performances are beautifully nuanced, gaining huge laughs from some effective one liners, perfectly timed, and Alexander Lass’s sensitive direction allows the night to unfold at a steady pace. The changes in tone are handled beautifully, and there are also some good jokes about theatre to appeal to the ‘in’ crowd!
In the opening monologue, Robert addresses the audience from the present, and places the play itself in the context of 1970, referencing Sondheim’s company and The Boys in the Band, among other cultural highlights. The play feels like a sweet counterpoint to The Boys in the Band, without the self-loathing and bitchiness on display in that work. 46 Beacon is a tender, sweet play about an encounter that may make you think of your own first time, but that is also the weakness of the script. There is little drama, and no dramatic stakes are raised, and for that reason it may struggle to be remembered in the lexicon of gay drama. However, that is also the strength of the play, its beautiful performances and its self-reflection.
Until 29 April 2017
Photos: Pete Le May