The Pride, the third production in Jamie Lloyd’s Trafalgar Transformed Season, follows the complex relationship between Philip, Oliver and Sylvia as they live their lives simultaneously in 1958 and the present. Both plot strands are engaging, and it’s interesting to see two takes on a group of characters defined by their time. Yet at times the play seemed somewhat directionless, perhaps because of the jumping narrative. Or maybe this confusion is a reflection of the mental state of many of the characters.
Harry Hadden-Paton gives a brave performance as a closeted gay man constricted by society and his own crippling self-loathing – a stark contrast to his modern counterpart. Both Hayley Atwell and Matthew Horne also give strong performances, yet Al Weaver stands out with his absorbing performance, bringing an appealing vulnerability to a character that could have become grating in less able hands.
The programme has an interesting discussion about ‘gay’ plays, and the categorization of the work of gay playwrights. The parts of The Pride set in the present are perhaps best described as a portrait of a foundering relationship (incidentally a gay one). Yet people like to categorize, and by alternating between the present day and 1958, Alexi Kaye Campbell brings the issue of society’s attitude to homosexuality centre stage. This is emphasised by a tipsily self-righteous monologue by modern-day Sylvia about the casual use of the word ‘gay’ as an insult. It is apt that the play, which examines the social and political persecution of gay men, is being performed against the backdrop of protests at Britain’s participation in the Russian Winter Olympics.
The Pride is an interesting exploration of relationships, and the impact that society has on the choices (and personality) of the individual. It is held together by a strong ensemble cast, and is well worth a look.