Pictures from the archive of shows I have directed – Beautiful Thing – by Jonathan Harvey.

15 Jun

I have in fact directed 2 versions of this show. The first was in York in 2003 and that will be featured in a later blogpost. But this was the production we remade and set it in Gorton, Manchester – thanks to Jonathan Harvey’s permission – as we ran the show for. month at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton in 2005. It won 3 Manchester Evening News awards. For best newcomer for actor Oliver Lee as Jamie, Best Design and best Technical team.


Jonathan Howard and Oliver Lee

Written by Jonathan Harvey

Directed by Marcus Romer

Designed by Laura McEwan

Lighting by Jude Cloke

photos Karl Andre

The cast – Oliver Lee, Jonathan Howard, Kerry Stacey, Marie Critchley, Andonis Anthony.


Jonathan Howard, Oliver Lee and Kerry Stacey


Oliver Lee and Andonis Anthony


Oliver Lee and Kerry Stacey


Oliver Lee and Jonathan Howard


Oliver Lee and Jonathan Howard

Review **** The Guardian

You’re supposed to start noticing your age when the policemen look younger. I’d say it’s when they start updating the references in Beautiful Thing. Can it really be be over a decade since Jonathan Harvey first produced his tenderfoot study of shy teens coming out on a Thamesmead estate?

Apparently it is; and Pilot Theatre’s purpose is to remake the piece for a new generation. In come nods to Britney, Beckham and Will Young, while the action is transplanted to a raw Mancunian council development. Director Marcus Romer even adds a Shameless-style narratorial introduction which is a little, well, shameless: but the good news is that a play routinely described as “feelgood” feels better than ever.

The typical Pilot touches of video projection, seat-rattling soundtrack and street-smart production suit the play. But Romer’s real innovation is to speed things up. There was a lassitude to the original Bush production which suggested that Harvey was the new urban Chekhov; when really he was a superior Coronation Street scriptwriter-in-waiting.

Romer’s production has the no-holds-barred attitude and verbal snap of Harvey’s best Corrie scripts. It’s incredible that the cast generate so much noise seemingly without opening their mouths.

Yet the best thing about it is that it’s 100% genuine – the two teen leads, Jonathan Howard and Oliver Lee, grew up a stone’s throw from the theatre, and turn in debut performances of easy naturalism and exceptional emotional accomplishment. Andonis Anthony and Marie Critchley provide complementary portrayals of feckless adulthood; and Kerry Stacey makes an impact as the gobby Mama Cass obsessive who lives next door.

Harvey’s now-classic play has been characterised as an urban fairy tale. Clap your hands if you still believe in urban fairies.

One Response to “Pictures from the archive of shows I have directed – Beautiful Thing – by Jonathan Harvey.”


  1. Marcus Romer – Director / Filmmaker / Speaker / | Marcus Romer's Blog - June 18, 2020

    […] collected three Manchester Evening News Theatre Awards for his productions of Lord of the Flies and Beautiful Thing. Marcus’ adaptation of Looking for JJ won a TMA award for best production for young […]

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