‘THE PRIDE’ – An engrossing journey between two erasEntertainment Feature, Section 4A Monday, April 23rd, 2012
Alexi Kaye Campbell’s The Pride,now playing at the Diversionary Theatre, weaves the tale of three people living in England in two different time periods. This is done in two acts with each scene alternating between 1958 and 2008. The characters names remain the same in both periods, and in some ways the subject matter is the same, but yields different results.
The 1958 portion involves Phillip (Francis Gercke), a realtor, his wife Sylvia (Jessica John), an illustrator, and her boss Oliver (Brian Mackey), a novelist, who become involved in a love triangle.
The 2008 piece gives us characters of the same name, and played by the same actors but this time the couple is Phillip and Oliver and Sylvia is the friend who is responsible for introducing them.
Each piece deals with the lives of these characters, but more importantly the role of the gay man in the late ’50s and the present day.
The Phillip and Oliver of 1958 deals with a forbidden love they have for each other, but only one of them comes to terms with his feelings about their affair.
The present day Phillip and Oliver are an openly gay couple but are going through a break up because of infidelity and sex addiction.
Both scenarios give us a glimpse at what being gay was like then and now and how much, or how little, has personally and socially changed over the course of time.
All of the actors here are given an opportunity to flex their muscles both in accent and acting chops playing two different characters who actually have the same moral threads as their counterparts and excel in their roles in both time periods.
Gerke’s performance is perfectly nuanced. He nails the repressed and married Englishman of the ’50s (stolid and determined to be the man he thinks he is expected to be) and also shows us the tender side of a present day gay man trying to deal with a relationship that is falling apart.
Mackey deftly handles both roles with humility, humor and grace. His Oliver of the ’50s is a pleasant man, guarded at first but that soon changes once he discovers who he is and what he wants. In contrast his present day Oliver, fights for some kind of understanding as to how he can love someone so much and still comprehend the reasons why they may not be right for each other.
Jessica John radiates in both eras. As the dutiful housewife of the ’50s, she is calm, cool and collected. She knows that something isn’t right with her marriage but just can’t quite put her finger on what it is. Her Sylvia of today is a bundle of energy, life and love … with the hopes of helping her two friends stay together, and finally finding love herself.
A special mention should go to actor Dangerfield G. Moore who takes on a handful of roles throughout the show ranging from Phillip’s doctor to Oliver’s editor. He is both hilarious and frightening in his spot-on portrayals.
To go into more detail here would ruin your experience in discovering what happens in the show. The actors skillfully take us back and forth between eras and are completely engrossing. Each one of them has moments that will break your heart.
Director Glenn Paris has directed this production with care, tenderness, heart and impeccable pacing. He shows us characters that are quite real and are not stereotypical, which is refreshing. Each scene flows seamlessly from one to the next.
The set (Matt Scott), lighting (Michelle Caron), and costumes (Trista Roland) fit the show and the Diversionary space well.
The Pride, with its top-notch direction, and definitely some of San Diego’s most engaging actors, is a piece not to be missed.
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