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Review: Gently Down the Stream, at Park Theatre

Poignant recollections of a 60-something gay pianist in Martin Sherman’s profound, thought-provoking and ultimately uplifting play

22 February, 2019 — By Catherine Usher

Jonathan Hyde as Beau, and Ben Allen as Rufus, in Gently Down the Stream. Photo: Marc Brenner

TELLING much of the life story of Beau – a gay American pianist, who is now settled in London – Martin Sherman’s Gently Down The Stream focuses on the shift in attitudes that the 60-something has encountered throughout his lifetime.

Beau (Jonathan Hyde) is constantly reflecting on his life and the people who have passed through it. Based on his previous experiences, he sees few things as permanent and considers every relationship as innately vulnerable.

Rufus (Ben Allen) is far more self-focused. He seeks affirmation from Beau and rebels when it isn’t entirely forthcoming. Ironically, Harry (Harry Lawtey), who abruptly enters their life, is more of a kindred spirit for Beau.

This is a far less traumatic story than Sherman’s 1979 play Bent, but it does have its fair share of horror-filled memories. As a young gay man growing up in New Orleans, Beau has experienced all manner of prejudice and Hyde brings a graceful sense of resignation to his poignant recollections.

At one hour 40 minutes without an interval, the intensity of the performance is cranked up to the max, resulting in an experience that is profound, thought-provoking and ultimately quite uplifting.

Until March 16
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