With less theatre trips over the Christmas and New Year period I decided to read one of the books of playscripts I've been meaning to catch up on, and with Beautiful People's second series having just finished I went for the first volume of Jonathan Harvey's collected plays, consisting of Beautiful Thing, Babies, Boom Bang-a-Bang and Rupert Street Lonely Hearts Club.
Of course Beautiful Thing was his first big hit and became the hugely well-loved film (I still get excited responses from people when I tell them the pub where we hold our monthly Coffee Posses was used as a location) and even just on the page it retains its warmth and humour. The other three plays also have a lot of great comic lines (although Harvey does like recycling - I recognised a couple of lines that later appeared on Gimme Gimme Gimme and Beautiful People) but as a whole don't hold together as well as the first. Boom Bang-a-Bang is probably the strongest of the remaining plays, another fairly light-hearted story as a group of friends get together to watch the 1995 Eurovision finals. When it got to the end and the characters react to the winner, I was going "oh, right, 1995 was that one..." He's not as strong when he strays from familiar territory, so while Babies is once again set on a South London estate, the large cast of characters is a bit unwieldy, and Rupert Street Lonely Hearts Club's attempts to be more serious didn't entirely work for me. Still, he's an entertaining writer even when the story doesn't quite fall together so I'll probably give the second volume of his plays a chance at some point, and will make sure and see his newest one when it opens in the summer.