Review: 'The Pride' at Manchester Opera House

Publish Date: 21/01/2014

Alexi Kaye-Campbell’s ‘The Pride’ finally arrived at the Manchester Opera House last night after much anticipation and many awards.

Opening on a 1950s scene, Philip, Oliver and Sylvia enjoy pre-dinner drinks. As the chatter fades, it becomes quickly apparent that all is not as perfect as it seems; behind each character is a web of secrets and personal sorrow’s derived from a life half-lived and half-loved. Shifting in time, the characters exit and enter the stage so that we meet a different Philip, Oliver and Sylvia in the modern age of Pride festivals, Grindr and pounding dance music. While enjoying many of the rewards of gay liberation, a legacy of internalised and public homophobia surrounds the trio as they attempt to understand why they do what they do.

The play is not always an easy watch. Matthew Horne (Gavin and Stacey) provides comic relief while in the different guises of a Nazi rent boy with feelings and a lad’s mag editor who wants to make gay ‘cool’. As humorous as these characterisations are, however, they too provide a call for understanding and acceptance and remind that prejudice exists today.

Spanning decades and touching on everything from aversion therapy to Aids, cottaging to Thai lady boys, this play charts the progression of homosexual equality. Poignantly, in light of the current situation in Russia, the cast took to the stage with ‘To Russia with Love’ placards during the curtain call, further compounding the play’s core message of love and acceptance.

‘The Pride’ runs until Friday 24 January 2014 and features Harry Hadden-Paton (Drifters, Waking the Dead), Naomi Sheldon (The Hour, Ashes to Ashes) and Al Weaver (Southcliffe, Sherlock, Survivors). Due to the nature of some of the themes covered it is recommended for people aged 16+.

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