GT Stage

Review: The Pride

The Pride, the shame, the sheer brilliance...

Pride. A word that we, as LGBT people are so familiar with that it has, perhaps, lost some of its impact over the years. This reflective meditation on what it is to be a homosexual is a timely reminder that behind that word is a hell of a lot of courage.

The play gives us snapshots of two gay men living their lives simultaneously in 1958 and the present day, demonstrating both how life has changed and how some things remain constant. In the 50s time zone the relationship between Oliver and Philip is very much a clandestine affair - reticent rendezvous when the wife is away and all-consuming self-disgust at being an abominable pervert. In the contemporary scenes things are quite different - Hayley Atwell, having played Philip’s wife in the 50s, is here Oliver’s best friend, a hag with a heart - but while the men don’t have quite such a tortuous struggle with their sexual identities, the piece does highlight a self destructive streak that many gay men seem to have carried with them through the ages. Oliver’s compulsion to suck anonymous cock in the park proves just as catastrophic to his relationship with Philip as the societal pressure to conform does to that of their earlier counterparts.

The set is dominated by a giant gilt-edged mirror, making it impossible to ignore the themes of reflection threaded through the play as the protagonists have their lives and loves and guilt mirrored back at them throughout. This is also utilised in some superbly spooky effects that see characters calling out to their other selves across the years.

The entire cast shine. As Philip and Oliver, Harry Hadden-Paton and Al Weaver give us sensitive and detailed portraits of quite distinctively different types of gay men. Weaver in particular delivers an astonishing contrast with his 1950s softly-spoken tweedy author and his present day slutty twink journo. You’ve all met the type... Hayley Atwell brings a wonderful warmth and heart to both versions of her character. Mathew Horne impresses in a variety of comedy parts, but none more so than the rent boy who turns up in full nazi uniform.

Mentions of fascists brings us to the curtain call, in which the cast file onto the stage with placards protesting against Putin’s treatment of LGBT people in Russia, starkly reminding us that whilst there has been much progress there are still enormous battles to be fought. Battles that will take a massive amount of courage. And pride.

GT gives this a 5/5

The Pride runs at the Trafalgar Studios until November 9th. More details at the: The Pride West End.

Words: Richard Unwin

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