THEATRE REVIEW - The Pride

Al Weaver (left) and Mathew Horne in The Pride
Al Weaver (left) and Mathew Horne in The Pride

A STRONG play, often so gritty and so honest it makes you wince. It’s The Pride which has come north after a much-praised and award-winning season at London’s Trafalgar Studio.

It is a work of two halves – comparing the treatment and victimisation of gay people in the 1950s, and then suddenly switching to the gay scene today. It looks closely at the changing attitudes over the years.

Pride takes uncomfortable issues – and pulls no punches. It tells how people wrestle to make sense of life and their mixed-up feelings.

At times, the action on stage is wholly brutal, but behind the angst, the trauma and bitterness there are many moments of fun and laughter. Often, the characters are able to poke fun at themselves in the grimmest of circumstances.

The wonderful acting ability of those on stage was beyond doubt. Fine portrayals, impressively real. Acting at its professional best.

On a sparse stage with one gigantic much flawed mirror set the scene for this true and courageous drama set in 1958 and 2013.

A great fear of loneliness is at the epicentre of the plot which explores changing attitudes...some for the better, others for the worse depending on your personal standpoint.

Pride challenges its characters and questions just how brave they are to their own origins.

Actors Harry Hadden-Paton plays the husband Philip – but is he faithful to his wife. And more important – to himself? There are far more questions than answers.

As young man at war with himself, Al Weaver captured all the asides of a hugely complicated character. Naomi Sheldon was the wronged wife and the ever-popular Mathew Horne handled three cameo roles with style and force. First, a rent boy dressed as a Nazi, second, a sleazy lads’ mag editor, and third as a psychiatric doctor.

The four actors won huge audiences praise – every moment of which was well deserved.

This deep, dark play is full of what the former News of the World called “all human life.” It truly is. And author Alexi Kaye Campbell deserves prizes and trophies for daring to tread into territory feared by so many.

On until Saturday, January 25, at Manchester Opera House.