The year is 1970, the location is Boston – and we find ourselves in 46 Beacon, a theatrical hotel which is to be our home for the duration of this play.
With us are Alan and Robert, who met for the first time this evening. As personalities, they are chalk and cheese: Alan is a fresh faced American teenager just starting out in life and trying to figure out his sexuality, and Robert is a much older, somewhat world-weary, British actor. What happens over the course of the next 90 minutes has the power to define both of their lives – if they let it.
This is a warm, funny piece of theatre which won my heart completely. The writing, by Bill Rosenfield, is thought-provoking and wry – and a little bit sad (especially for those of us in the audience closer to Robert in age than Alan). I also liked the set – I’ve seen productions at Trafalgar Studios previously, but always in Studio 1, which is much larger. ’46 Beacon’ takes place in Studio 2, a more intimate space that is just right for a play whose drama is confined to a hotel room.
Credit also, while we’re on the subject, to Trafalgar Studios for developing such an interesting and diverse programme of productions. It is one of the few theatres in the West End which actively promotes new writing and young talent – all the while, charging very reasonable ticket prices.
Back to the play, and I’m finding it difficult to get Alan and Robert out of my head. Despite their very different outlooks upon life, there’s a chemistry between the two of them which has you rooting for them both and longing for a happy ending.
Whether the ending does indeed turn out to be a happy one, I will not reveal – instead, I strongly recommend that you pay Trafalgar Studios a visit and find out for yourself. What I will say, though, is that this production is memorable for a number of reasons, but most of all because of Oliver Coopersmith and Jay Taylor: perfectly cast, their performances will remain imprinted upon my mind for a very long time to come.