Trafalgar Studios, London

Theatre review: The Pride - Put two tickets in the post for Mr Putin

4.00

 

A single cast tells two separate stories of gay lovers in Alexi Kaye Campbell’s The Pride, set in 1958 and 2008 (when it was first staged), exploring the characters’ own, and society’s, changing attitudes towards sexuality, identity and honesty. At this timely revival directed by Jamie Lloyd for the Trafalgar Transformed season, the actors hold placards reading “To Russia, With Love” for the curtain call.

It’s hard to believe it was a debut play; the writing is witty and zesty, the pace taut and the structure neat. Campbell also plumbs emotional depths, in the charged currents of what cannot be said that swirl beneath polite conversation in 1958, and in the brashly modern over-share of 2008.

Hayley Atwell plays both a Fifties wife and a Noughties best mate, and is aggressively charming and wholly believable in both. Harry Hadden-Paton is Philip, who in the Fifties scenes has deeply repressed homosexual feelings, set alight by Al Weaver’s Oliver. Their love affair makes the latter realise he can feel “a pride” in being gay. Philip can’t share this epiphany, and there is  an astonishing, mercurial scene of confrontation at the play’s centre, that turns distressingly brutal.  

As relationships in 1958 slowly unravel, scenes are intercut with those from 50 years on, in which we see that all the liberation in the world still doesn’t make relationships easy. Despite being committed to the modern Philip, an angst-ridden young Oliver seems unable to put an end to “the slut stuff”; his cheating causes Philip to walk.

There’s starry support from Mathew Horne in largely comic roles, including a camply pouting Nazi-costumed call boy and a lads’ mag editor on a crusade to show straight readers that “it’s cool to be gay or whatever”. His comic timing is brilliant, buffing the polish of Campbell’s satirically scathing script.

Moments when the past haunts the present, the old Philip appearing as an apparition through an enormous two-way mirror, don’t always work. Although presumably meant to show how past prejudices still weigh heavily, it actually muddles the contemporary relationship. Nonetheless, this scorching revival proves The Pride is well worth revisiting.

Home (The Shed, NT, London ***), created by Nadia Fall, is verbatim theatre, devised around transcripts of interviews with young people in a hostel in east London. Unsurprisingly, it presses hot buttons, from domestic violence to illegal immigration, drug abuse to gang culture, the Olympic legacy to STDs. Perhaps because that doesn’t sound like a laugh, the show also has a lively musical element.

This is fine when it seems to come naturally, as when a young man sings Beyoncé’s “Halo” for the interviewer (invisible but ever present, and addressed as if in the audience). One cast member, Grace Savage, only ever beatboxes – it’s her way of communicating – and she is incredibly talented; so fears that this is thrown in as a lame attempt to be “down with the kids” instantly evaporate.

When characters break into song it can jar: “I’m longing for my keys” turns the issue of permanent housing shortages into a hand-on-heart, reach-for-the-high-note moment. The tough-as-boots hostel manager, Sharon (excellent Ashley McGuire), wearily sums up the challenges these kids face – deemed “scroungers” and with nowhere to go, thanks to government cuts – then she breaks into a song about sunrise and flowers, as if it’s all got a bit too political.

Home could have been leadenly worthy, but it has a springiness, and is funny without being patronising. The hard-working cast of nine, all playing several roles, are energetic and verbally dexterous, pulling off the street lingo too – braps and bruvs, innits and tings. Exceptional is the endearingly exuberant Michaela Coel, playing a teenager who, while estranged from her mum and contracting chlamydia three times, has an irrepressible love for life.

The hostel system isn’t romanticised; some praise the community, others fear their neighbours. Everyone longs for their own home; this is only a halfway house. Home is necessarily made up of fragmentary stories, and it’s fragmentary in form. Perhaps that’s the only way to capture the range and transitory nature of these interconnected experiences: it doesn’t completely cohere, but then nor do such communities.

‘The Pride’ (trafalgar-studios.co.uk, to 9 Nov; ‘Home’ (nationaltheatre.org.uk) to 7 Sept

Critic's Choice

Part mystery, part comedy, part critique of international relations, Lucy Kirkwood’s impressive Chimerica, now at the Harold Pinter, London, is a thrilling ride (until 19 Oct). At the National Theatre, Adrian Lester in the title role of Othello and Rory Kinnear as Iago are in perfect balance (to 5 Sept). Or see the live cinema relay (26 Sept).

Arts and Entertainment
Stewart Lee (Gavin Evans)

comedy

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

music
Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

film
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
News
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
people
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
Yaphett Kotto with Julius W Harris and Jane Seymour in 1973 Bond movie Live and Let Die

film
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment

film
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
    Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

    Beige to the future

    Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

    Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

    More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

    Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

    The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own