46 Beacon at Trafalgar Studios
A poignant story about a gay man’s self-discovery in 1970s Boston, Bill Rosenfield’s 46 Beacon, directed by Alexander Lass, is bold, raw, real and thought-provoking. A semi-autobiographical depiction – taking place in a small apartment on a rather posh Boston street – the narrative chronicles an intimate moment in time in two men’s lives.
While it could be superficially viewed as a tale of seduction – even bordering on the questionable, as one of the men, Alan, is only just 16 and the other, Robert, is about 40 – it is more complex than that. Robert (Jay Taylor) appears at first to be a rather world-weary transplanted British actor enjoying the vibrant promiscuity of the 70s gay scene. He is confident, quite arrogant, and determined to lure a young stagehand who does not yet know he is a homosexual. Alan (Oliver Coopersmith) seems to be a very naive, rather geeky kid who has trouble finding friends.
Watching the gradual seduction one is expecting Robert to be ruthlessly aggressive, like a predator with prey, when in fact he is gentle and patient, at all times assuring the boy that he can stop if he wants. Alan wants to be talked through it, to find out every detail of Robert’s first time, and about his life and relationships.
The dialogue is fascinating and about the process of coming to terms with one’s sexual identity. Alan speaks of trying to sleep with girls, to fit in, craving normality. Robert helps him understand his homosexuality, progressively introducing him to its realities. Seeming to be a self-serving Lothario, he has in fact given the young man a beautiful gift, an introduction to his true self. Conversely, Alan is a thoughtful person who questions the older man, forcing him to face repressed feelings and emotions.
Taylor and Coopersmith are superb and very natural; the realness of their performance is riveting. Amid brilliantly written conversations, the action is raw, sensual, affectionate and very intimate, and the audience is transfixed, drawn in, rather than being sheepish voyeurs.
A rare, poignant work and a very important and heartfelt study of what it is to be a human being and gay, 46 Beacon is an outstanding play that should be seen. About universal issues such as being true to one’s self and not running away from one’s feelings, it is a piece to which all can relate.
Photo: Pete Le May
46 Beacon is at Trafalgar Studios from 6th until 29th April 2017, for further information or to book visit here.
Watch actors Jay Taylor and Oliver Coopersmith talk about 46 Beacon here: