Gay play The Pride opened earlier this month, to a packed house that was left tangled up at intermission, but cuddling and wiping the odd tear by show’s end.
The Pride follows the story of three people across two ages – Oliver (played by Kip Chapman), Phillip (Simon London) and Sylvia (Dena Kennedy) – as they live in 1958 and 2008. In 1958, we see the story of Phillip and Sylvia’s marriage dissolve as sexual tension between Phillip and Oliver rises; in 2008, we see Phillip and Oliver’s relationship in tatters, while emancipated Sylvia giggles down the phone to a gorgeous Italian.
The insanely British trio navigates its way through a comedy of manners, bumping awkwardly about as they try and figure out how to get the love that they need – often with amusing results, sometimes with terrifying outcomes.
Kip Chapman – the out and proud mind behind 2010 tear-jerker Songs For Guy – displays a yearning as both incarnations of Phillip that keeps the audience engaged. Whether he’s pining after a married man or ashamed after being caught once again in an uncompromising position, Kip brings a charm to the unlucky ’50s Phillip and hapless ’00s Phillip that makes us fall in love.
Dena Kennedy’s Sylvia, whilst living in two different worlds, displays strength, clarity and courage in both eras. Despite the differing circumstances the Sylvias find themselves in, Dena is able to marry them up with a crisp delivery that transcends time.
Unfortunately for the many men whispering in the crowd when Oliver took to the stage, actor Simon London is not family, but plays family convincingly. Simon is the perfect closeted ’50s man – stuffy, rigid and awkward, he perfectly bumbles through the scenes, providing the audience with the odd giggle in between the obvious pain Oliver is feeling.
The play is still running, so we should not give too much away, but let it suffice to say that this is a great piece of theatre. It will choke you up, then it will soften the blow, only to build the tension up to one big gulp all over again. Bring your tissues (for tears happy and sad) and a stiff drink for a couple of harrowing moments, but most of all, bring your friends. This is theatre for us.