In Theatre Twenty-Two’s production of The Pride, audiences are swept back in time to 1958 before being brought to the more modern 2008 interchangeably as they follow the often complicated and captivating lives of the two main characters. Philip (Andre Nelson) and Oliver (Trevor Young Marston) are two young men living in London who are struggling with their sexuality within the social constraints of the societies they’re living in.
This production is part of the Annual Pride Series that explores the history, themes, characters and progress in LGBTQ culture. Director, Corey McDaniel, said he first read the script five years ago but at the time was concerned with producing and directing the play because it made him uncomfortable and made him feel exposed as a gay man himself.
With that in mind, it’s clear that McDaniel treasures the script deeply if he was willing to come back to it years later and direct what is sure to be one of the most raw and intimate productions you’ll see this season. It’s truly through McDaniel’s directing that the story of Philip and Oliver is brought to life in a way that affects the viewer deeply.
With such a small cast of four, it’s of utmost importance that the audience feels a bond and connection between the actors and that was certainly there right from the beginning. There was an undeniable chemistry between Philip and Oliver along with their friendship with Sylvia (Angela DiMarco.) It’s this closeness between the actors that helps elevate their story to the next level. As a viewer it makes you do something that isn’t always easy to achieve as a director – it makes you care.
Since the play takes place in London, England the actors had to adopt the use of an English accent which is certainly no easy feat. However, dialect coach, Marianna de Fazio, did a wonderful job helping the actors transform their voices. Although there were a few slip ups here and there, it’s commendable how well all the actors were able to stick with the accent for the entirety of the show.
While this production grapples with the complexities of life and coming to terms with who you are, it’s also very humorous. If you’re a fan of dry, sarcastic humor then you’ll love this production. With that said, some of the jokes will require a bit of knowledge on British culture, but nevertheless it’s sure to evoke a few chuckles.
Something The Pride does an excellent job of is exploring the changing attitudes to sexuality over a span of 50 years. It shows how far we’ve come as a society, but also how much we still need to work on because although things are better than they were 50 years ago, there are still many things we need to improve upon.
One of the most striking scenes is where Philip is at the doctor’s office undergoing treatment for his homosexuality. It’s heartbreaking, but it’s also important to realize that this is actually what many people went through back in 1958. It’s a painful reminder of a past that we can never go back to.
Although certain scenes might leave you feeling upset and angry at how one’s sexuality is viewed in society, there is absolutely no way an audience member will leave this production without having learned something about what it means to truly be human.
The Pride, a Theatre Twenty-Two production directed by Corey McDaniel. At 12th Ave Arts in Seattle through November 19. For tickets visit brownpapertickets.com