Beautiful Things (StageArtXposed) – theatre review

Beauty may only be skin deep, but not according to the ethos of the four fine looking gentlemen who constitute the GLEAM (Good Looking and Aesthetics Movement) team. Their mantra is that you have to look good to feel good and vice versa. The shallow bunch featured in Beautiful Things: A Really Good Looking Musical consists of a model, a medico, a rock star and a personal trainer.

The front man for Jason and the Argonauts, the biggest name in the music world (Danny Medica), has split from his long-term dental nurse girlfriend. Male model Kosta (Henry Brett) had a desire to design boy Barbie dolls when he was a kid. Dim witted but peppy, he often channels his mini-me (that is the nine-year-old version of himself, played by Samuel Boyden) for guidance.

Beau (Adam Perryman) is an Adonis, who calls himself an executive leader of lifestyles. He has written a New York Times bestseller and recently separated from Katy Perry. As for Dr Dorian (Bradley Marshall), he has never seen a problem that Botox can’t help. What they have in common is tickets on themselves.

They are being interviewed by Parker Heer (Ana Mitsikas), who can’t hide her adulation for the collective … and has a particular penchant for the PT. So much so that she frequently alludes to his good looks (in fact, a little too often).

Heer’s risqué one-liners are scene-stealers. Brett’s comic timing is delightful and he and his younger self are the best elements in the show. Medica has a strong and alluring voice, but he would benefit by letting go and allowing his character to lose his inhibitions. His face is too pensive. A lack of emotion is also a significant problem for Marshall, who has but one expression throughout the hour-long production. Perryman settles comfortably into the role of the ultimate egotist, with the swagger to match.

There is a lot to enjoy about Beautiful Things, including eight tunes with the backing of a six-piece band. But at times I thought the lines were being delivered without a natural rhythm or flow (kind of like a read through). More performances should iron out some of those kinks. The gap between the first and second musical number, as Heer settled down to interview the boys, felt too long. In fact, I am not convinced the balance between verbiage and song is yet on the money, especially as a number of “chats” between arrangements didn’t progress the storyline or add enough freshness.

Nevertheless, Drew Downing, who is responsible for the book, music and lyrics, has plenty to work with here. Further development can only benefit the finished product. Downing says privileged males telling people how to live is something that never fails to amuse him. That is why he created this musical talkie – “for them to validate themselves … with a couple of twists and a bit of empathy. Not much, but some.”

Beautiful Things has already gone through a variety of workshops and rewrites, starting in 2014. Narcissism is its watchword. First and foremost, it is a lot of fun and there was plenty of heartfelt laughter on opening night. This workshop piece is next playing at Chapel off Chapel on 23 October 2017 at 7pm.

Alex First

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