Everyone lives cheek by jowl on this south London property, however there’s nonetheless house for secrets and techniques. In Rosie Elnile’s sensible design, the walkway sits bang on the entrance of the stage: we’re correctly concerned on this thirtieth anniversary revival of Jonathan Harvey’s breakthrough play.
Life isn’t pukka for the youngsters behind these doorways. Leah has been excluded, Ste’s dad and brothers knock him about. Jamie, vibrant however bullied, lives with mum Sandra within the center flat, with its jaunty cyan door and hanging basket, a family that gained’t be floor down.
When Sandra is in a grump, you realize about it. Shvorne Marks’ indomitable efficiency has a salty tongue, blazing coronary heart and a scowl to freeze an unruly baby’s blood. However she fights for Jamie and willingly provides Ste refuge when his dad’s fists are flying.
The boys prime and tail in Jamie’s mattress: soothing bruises with peppermint foot lotion, working in direction of a primary kiss. Rilwan Abiola Owokoniran’s circumspect, gangly Jamie and Raphael Akuwudike’s sweet-smiling Ste tenderly chart these pre-digital teenagers navigating a means into id, scouring the listings in Homosexual Instances (Lily Savage the resplendent cowl lady).
Harvey’s play goes to difficult locations – violence offstage and on, the worry that lives would possibly already be written off at 16. Anthony Simpson-Pike’s route is aware of when to carry a silence, to really feel the doubt beneath the banter. But even within the bleakest moments, Elliot Griggs’ lighting insists on a bit magic, glowing with peach and raspberry.
There’s sweetness too within the performances – Trieve Blackwood-Cambridge as Sandra’s boyfriend is pitched on the sting of cringe (studied fist bumps, too-smooth strikes), whereas Scarlett Rayner is fierce but fragile as retro-obsessed Leah.
Harvey’s triumphant 1993 hit heralded a prolific tumble of performs throughout the subsequent decade; he’s additionally certainly one of Corrie’s long-running writers and just lately scripted Ian McKellen’s Mom Goose. Cleaning soap and panto, large coronary heart and shameless gags: they had been already there in Lovely Factor. It’s a bumpy combine, however there’s additionally a cussed utopian impulse – an insistence that love will discover a means, that lives can take the form they want.