Rarely does a stage production have such a strong and passionate story that you lose yourself entirely within it. The Glass Protégé has plenty of these moments, where the audience in front just seems to melt away.
Two worlds are brought vividly to life – a film star at the end of his life in 1989 L.A., and the glamour of Hollywoodland in 1949 (just before they turned off ‘land’ on the sign). Often when a story flashes back and forth between two periods of time like this, the present is used as a narrative for the past, and as such feels weaker – not so in The Glass Protégé. Both worlds are filled with rich, powerful and fragile characters.
In 1949, Alexander Hulme’s Jackson is a sexual supernova – he’s everything that a gay man wants to be, and fears to be at the same time. He’s beautiful, charming and broken, with a raw sensuality and sexiness that physically grabs you. His connection with David R. Butler’s Patrick is thrilling and engaging – their contrasts pay homage to how you can’t pick who you fall in love with.
When the clothes finally come off and the two men kiss and start to explore each other’s body, it feels more Romeo & Juliet than Treasure Island Media. This is a classy, sophisticated love story that just happens to be very, very sexy.
Emily Loomes’ Candice and Mary Stewart’s Nella both seem like characters from a Hollywood blockbuster of the period – we could have watched them for hours, perhaps even in their own spin-off stories!
Back in 1989, the relationship that develops between German refugee Ava (Sheena May) and the frail star of yesteryear, Pat (Paul Lavers) is as subtle and delicate as it is poigniant and powerful – while Stephen Connery-Brown’s George will make your skin crawl as a the misunderstood, damaged and twisted not-quite-a-vilian.
Playing until tonight (9 May), this is your last chance to see The Glass Protégé. We only hope that it goes on tour or gets another run.
You can catch the show at Park Theatre at 3.15pm and 7.45pm.