How much has the world changed in the last 50 years? Some may point to technological advances, freedoms, equality, and say immeasurably. Alexi Kaye Campbell’s The Pride draws this into question.
In 1958, Philip is married to illustrator Sylvia. Their marriage seems stilted and distanced. Though it might appear to be just the mannerisms of the time, when he is introduced to writer Oliver, the underlying problem becomes much clearer.
In 2008, gay journalist Oliver is obsessed with random, anonymous sex to the point that it is destroying his own relationship.
Both men have dreams they cannot or have not followed, both are living lies, both indulge in unspoken taboos.
The repetitive actions of characters Oliver, Philip and Sylvia, 50 years apart, forces the audience to question how much progress has actually been made. In 1958 Oliver can only indulge in the physical side of a gay relationship with strangers, while his counterpart in 2008, who is free to openly enjoy whichever relationship he chooses, deliberately seeks out anonymous sex. His own peccadillo is taboo again, but is that his fault or society’s?
JJ Feild, Bertie Carvel and Lyndsey Marshal as the central trio of interlocked characters shift between time periods and sometimes costumes in the blink of an eye, lending an easy continuity to Campbell’s tale. Feild’s 1958 Philip is a taut, tense picture of restrained emotion, desperate to deny that which everyone else knows to be true, while Carvel’s 2008 Oliver is unable to control his emotions, waving them around like semaphore flags in the hope of gaining attention.
Yet, though the problems of 2008 are evident, the current Oliver’s tantrums pale into insignificance when compared to the fate of the 1958 Oliver.