Monday, October 31, 2016

Shatteringly good - "The Pride" by Theatre22

Angela DiMarco, Andre Nelson, Trevor Young Marston in The Pride (Margaret Toomey)
The Pride
Theatre22
(at 12th Avenue Arts)
Through November 19, 2016

A shattering emotional catharsis awaits audience members who attend The Pride, now being staged by Theatre22 at 12th Avenue Arts! Every SGN reader should make plans to see this production, if you can. It’s exceptionally well-acted, intelligently well-written, and is a great reminder of how far society has changed in a fairly short period of years regarding Gay life and issues.

It’s almost criminal that this play is Alexi Kaye Campbell’s first play, since it is so well-written. Perhaps more of his plays will be produced here in the near future, so we can experience the growth of his writing.

In The Pride, we meet Philip (Andre Nelson), Sylvia (Angela DiMarco) and Oliver (Trevor Young Marston) in two time periods: 1958 and 2008. But no, they don’t “age” – they are two different sets of characters with two different sets of concerns. In 1958, Philip and Sylvia are married and Oliver is a writer that Sylvia works with. In 2008, the three are all very contemporary friends.

The play slides from the narrow confines of respectability and societal castigation of homosexuality in 1958 to the easy attendance at Pride fests in 2008. Excellently directed by Corey McDaniel, the frequent transitions between eras are elegantly and swiftly and seamlessly accomplished. After one such transition, you will have no difficulty understanding “when” you are in watching the play.

The 1958 storyline revolves around the very proper Philip who is suspicious of and derogatory toward homosexuals, though his wife Sylvia begins to suspect that his hatred might be connected to his own sexual yearnings. She thinks, and it turns out is correct, that Philip might be attracted to Oliver, even as he is repelled by him. The whole story arc for that year is dark and tragic and so, so unnecessary, as we might think in 2016.

It is so very clear, throughout, that Philip hates himself as much as or more than anyone. He creates tragedy out of his inability to allow himself to know his own truth. Everyone suffers greatly.

Concurrently, though, in the 2008 relationship arc, Philip and Oliver are both comfortably Gay and Out and fine, although they have a whole different problem in their relationship. Sylvia is their best friend who tries to fix their relationship while finding her own love.

All three of these actors do great work in their roles, but Marston is particularly heart-breaking as Oliver in both iterations. It is the finest work I’ve seen so far from this talented young man.

In addition, Doug Fahl plays a few extra characters and manages all their transitions beautifully, as well. His characters are vital to the progression of each story and he provides a bit of needed humor in dark moments. I don’t want to give surprises away, but the first character he plays is a great deal of fun.

The flexible and streamlined apartment set by Margaret Toomey provides the easy foundation for instant changes. Adding moody lights from Ahren Buhmann and mournful sound from Erick Johnson allows the atmosphere to flow.

They warn of “adult content” and this is definitely a needed warning. Therefore, younger children and even younger teens are not encouraged. Anyone who loves good theater and great experiences should definitely plan to get this show on their calendar.

For more information, go to www.theatre22.org or http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2405211 or call 800-838-3006.