Review by Caroline Hanks-Farmer
It’s 1970, we’re in a one-roomed apartment on 46 Beacon Street in Boston USA. Robert (Jay Taylor) sets the scene. 46 Beacon is a memory play from award-winning writer Bill Rosenfield, about a very special night in his lifetime. Oliver Coopersmith plays Alan, whom we learn has just turned 16. We witness Alan spend an evening of discovery – an enlightening exploration into his sexuality.
The innocence and naivety shown by Coopersmith was really charming. While the amusement, and maturity of worldly-wise, sexually experienced Taylor, made the chemistry between these two actors palpable. There were references to the era of the 70’s and it illustrated how times have changed, the politics and people’s thoughts.
Rosenfield has written something truly extraordinarily special. It’s well constructed, funny and beautiful. You felt as though you were watching someone’s very personal recollection of a life defining evening, unfold in front of your eyes.
Yes the character name has changed to Alan, but this is Bill’s story. When I recently interviewed both writer and actor playing his younger self, Rosenfield said when he watched Coopersmith he thought to himself “was I ever that innocent”. But clearly he was, as this captivating play captures an evening of immense importance to Rosenfield. A coming of age story, a realisation of sexuality and acceptance of feelings.
At just 83 minutes, you wouldn’t necessarily expect to feel that you could be absorbed in the story, or that the characters could be properly developed in such a short period of time. And yet they are. This is testament to both Rosenfield’s brilliant writing, along with Taylor and Coopersmith’s incredibly believable acting. Their tender intimacy, beautiful to watch with perfect direction by Alexander Lass. There’s something very engaging about watching two actors portray someone’s “first time”. No matter what your sexual orientation, everyone can relate to the situation and connections can be made from your own life experiences. The patient teaching shown by Taylor, with the confused realisation and eye-opening of Coopersmith was very endearing. There was a sweetness to this piece from both actors and writer, an understanding mutual respect from all.
Sometimes as a reviewer you get a feeling that a play is going to leave an imprint on either your mind or your heart. Just like the memory that instigated it, this is one such play.
The writing is witty, endearing, captivating and positively charming, with top-drawer acting from both Taylor and Coopersmith. This moment in Rosenfield’s life made an indelible impression on him, go see it at the Trafalgar Studios to share in it.
5 APRIL – 29 APRIL 2017
Press Night: Monday 10 April 2017 at 7.00pm
Performances: Monday – Saturday at 7.45pm
Thursday & Saturday at 3.00pm
Ticket Prices: £15-£30
Address: Trafalgar Studios 2, 14 Whitehall, Westminster, SW1A 2DY
Box Office: 0844 871 7632
Website: 46 Beacon Tickets