Tower Theatre Company is the only full-time, non-professional theatre company based in central London and have been running for over 80 years. Their current production is The Pride by Alexi Kaye Campbell, directed by Jane Dodd.
The Pride is a very clever and thought provoking play with moments that will shock you, touch you, make you laugh and make you want to cry. However, most of all this beautiful piece of writing will really make you think and examine how society and its attitude towards homosexuality has evolved.
The play is made up of two individual stories that are told simultaneously in an episodic fashion, each set in a different era and with different characters of the same name, played by the same actors. This sounds confusing but it is made easy to follow by a fantastic cast of actors that have clearly worked very hard to produce this slick and professional production.
Both stories focus on three central characters, Philip, Sylvia and Oliver. The first story is set in 1958 where we meet Philip and Sylvia, who, on first glance appear to be a happily married couple. It is not long before the tensions and unspoken problems in their marriage start to surface, largely due to the introduction of Oliver, a writer and work colleague of Sylvia. The deep rooted and repressed fears of both Sylvia and Philip begin to emerge and slowly take their toll on the couple.
The second story, set in 2008, focuses on Oliver and Philip, Oliver is a writer who has an addiction to anonymous sex, the problem being is that he is or was in a long term relationship with Philip. Supported by his best friend, Sylvia, Oliver tries to make sense of his sex addiction, in a rather honest and explicit manner.
The actors have a tough job jumping in and out of these very different characters but manage it seamlessly and deliver genuine and emotive performances with every change and stay true to the characters. Philip is played by Andy Murton, Murton delivers a highly emotionally charged and professional performance of the Philip we see in 1958. Murton perfectly captures the mental anguish and self-loathing that Philip is battling with and portrays the attitude towards homosexuality of the time with a realness that forces you to realise how far our society has come.
Sylvia is played by Karima Chellig, Chellig delivers a strong performance of Sylvia in 1958, her sympathetic and emotionally drained portrayal of this character is a stark difference to that of her light and bubbly portrayal of Sylvia in 2008, the only female in the cast, she is a joy to watch and very engaging. Oliver is played by Iain Handyside, his portrayal of Oliver in 2008 has a genuine quality, his characterisation is very natural and relaxed and lends itself well to the role. As well as these characters there are also other smaller roles, played by Michael Bettell, Bettell plays three very different characters with perfect precision and amazing characterisation. Bettell has a fantastic command of his vocal ability as well as his physical acting skills, resulting in three well rounded characters, some of which offer some much needed comic relief at times.
The Pride is an insightful, realistic and sometimes brutal insight into the issues surrounding homosexuality, identity and human relationships. Tower Theatre Company have created a brilliant production and it is definitely worth seeing, you will learn something if you watch this and I recommend you book your tickets now.
Review by Haydn James
Oliver – Iain Handyside, Philip – Andy Murton, Sylvia – Karima Chellig, The Man/Peter/The Doctor – Michael Bettell
Director – Jane Dodd, Set Design – Jude Chalk, Costume Design – Lily Ann Coleman, Lighting Design – Alex Dobson, Sound Design – Ed Lewis, Stage Manager – Saffron Mille.
The Tower Theatre Company Presents: The Pride By Alexi Kaye Campbell
Tuesday 10th December – Saturday 14th December
Evenings at 7.30pm
Matinee at 3.00pm Saturday 14th December
The Tower Theatre Company performing at the Bridewell Theatre, off Fleet Street.
Book Tickets at http://www.towertheatre.org.uk/
Due to the explicit nature of the material, this play is considered suitable for 16+ years only.