The Pride, Richmond Theatre, January 2014Posted on 29 January 2014
On the face of it this is a play about the suppression and expression of homosexual feelings in men. But it strikes deeper than that by exploring how we come to terms with who we really are, and how our lives interact with those of others.
The main protagonists are Philip and Oliver, but in two different settings separated by half a century. Linking them is Sylvia, Philip’s wife and colleague of Oliver in the scenes from the mid-twentieth century, and a close confidante of Oliver in those from the twenty-first. It’s a witty and fast moving play, deftly switching between one period and the other, yet all accomplished by four actors. Harry Hadden-Paton as Philip exhibits a clarity that hides the shame and difficulty he feels in recognising his true nature, and Al Weaver is gloriously vulnerable as the obviously gay Oliver, who in the twenty-first century regrets his addiction to quick blow jobs in the shadows.
Naomi Sheldon is remarkable in her dual role as Sylvia, difficult and insecure as Philip’s wife, yet so very sympathetic as Oliver’s devoted friend in her other incarnation. And then there are the three wonderful vignettes by Mathew Horne in the modern section of the play, in turn as a rent boy hired by Oliver, as publisher of a lads’ mag, and finally as an aversion therapist hired by Philip. All eminently dislikeable, but providing amusing interludes that enliven the action.
Yet the action is also complemented by philosophical remarks on existentialism by the modern Oliver before Sylvia gently kicks him out in order to welcome a new boyfriend. This play poses questions about how we know what we are, what we could be, and to what extent our life exists by its effect on others. Well worth seeing a second time in Jamie Lloyd’s thought provoking production.
Performances continue until February 1 — for details click here.