Desert Rose Playhouse’s current production is BEAUTIFUL THING by Jonathan Harvey and a beautiful thing it is! The setting is the early 1990’s in a Southeast London council estate, Britain’s version of subsidized housing. The residents of 3 adjacent apartments are the focus here. First there is the recently expelled Leah (Ceisly Jefferson) who is infatuated with everything related to the singer Mama Cass, who, for those of you not into ancient history, came to fame as a member of the Mamas and the Papas. Leah tries to hide much of her inner anger in cursing and firing off barbs of wicked humor. In the next apartment lives Sandra (Christine Tringali-Nunez) a single mom to son Jamie (Noah Arce) who is 15 and her current younger and rather ineffectual lover Tony (Brent Anderson). In the third apartment is another teenage boy, Ste, who is 16, along with his drunken father and drug dealing older brother, both of whom are unseen but apparently have no qualms about regularly beating up Ste, the results of which, psychologically and physically, are seen.
This is truly an ensemble cast. As Sandra, Christine Tringali-Nunes, lets the caring and loving side of her show, thereby balancing the harsher, louder persona Sandra uses as a defense mechanism to get through the day. Ceisley Jefferson’s Leah lets the vulnerable girl peek out just enough to see how Leah hides her insecurities and fear behind a wicked sense of humor. The scene in which she was on an apparently acid driven high was really funny and believable and not over-played for a minute. Brent Anderson, does what he can to make Tony, the least developed role of the script, likeable and just goofy enough to let us see why Sandra possibly hooked up with him in the first place. As the two teens falling in love, Noah Arce and Robert Garcia do a great job in letting us feel that jumble of emotions associated with one’s first love! When Ste tries to deny it, we clearly see and feel the confusion and fear he is enduring. When he pushes Jamie away, the hurt is palpable on Jamie’s face as is the joy when they are about to have their first kiss.
So for everyone who remembers the good (and the bad) about coming out and for anyone who still cherishes their first kiss with their first love (and come on, who doesn’t?), I strongly urge you to go see BEAUTIFUL THING at the Desert Rose Playhouse now through March 29, 2020. For tickets or for further information, call 760-202-3000 or go to www.desertroseplayhouse.org