The time in which a person lives can have a huge impact on the way his life turns out. At least that’s one of the theories rippling under the surface of Alexi Kaye Campbell’s “The Pride,” which just finished a run at North Raleigh Arts & Creative Theatre. Kaye’s script, brought to the stage by Mortall Coile Theatre Company, is gripping and original, and it’s made even stronger thanks to powerhouse performances from Jesse R. Gephart, Ryan Brock, and Page Purgar.
The script moves effortlessly between 1958 and 2008, following two sets of characters with the same names, or, depending on how one interprets the show, the same characters, at the same ages, just living in different time periods.
In both story-lines, Oliver (Gephart) and Philip (Brock) are homosexual men with a strong connection. In the 1958 storyline, Philip’s marriage to Sylvia (Purgar) and his intense denial of who he is keeps the relationship from being realized…at least in the loving, tender way it should have been. In the 2008 storyline, Oliver is unsettled, troubled, and promiscuous, leading to his recent breakup with Philip. In this version, Sylvia simply serves as best friend and confidante to Oliver. Both storylines are character-driven and compelling, but it is their intertwining that is even more so.
By asking viewers to envision these lives at different times, they are reminded of how far society has come and of how far it still has to go when it comes to matters of discrimination. There is also an inkling of criticism lurking in Campbell’s script- criticism of modern gay culture and the embodying, even embracing, of stereotypes that often go along with it.
Aside from the larger issues at play here, this is a story about people, something that director Gephart obviously understands, based on his simple staging and the strong, unflinching, and brutally honest performances by the three leads. Brock is especially effective here; his 1958 Philip seethes with self-loathing and bitter sadness.
The show is good, honest, and real- it’s the type of theatre that Raleigh needs more of. Mortall Coile is still a relatively young theatre company, with two shows- including this one- under its belt and one more in the works. With “The Pride” as one of its earlier choices, it’s obvious audiences have a lot to look forward to from this vibrant and daring young company.
THE PRIDE (Mortall Coile Theatre Company, Feb. 20-22 and Feb. 27-March 1 at North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre, in the Greystone Village Shopping Center).
SHOW: http://mctheatre.co/now-showing/ and https://www.facebook.com/events/1561791260762852.
PRESENTER: http://mctheatre.co/ and https://www.facebook.com/mctheatre.
VENUE: http://www.nract.org/, https://www.facebook.com/NRACT, and https://twitter.com/NRACT.
The Pride (2008 West End drama): http://www.dramatists.com/cgi-bin/db/single.asp?key=4212 (Dramatists Play Service, Inc.) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Pride_%28play%29 (Wikipedia).
Alexi Kaye Campbell (playwright and screenwriter): http://www.davidhigham.co.uk/clients/Kaye_Campbell.htm (David Higham Associates bio) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexi_Kaye_Campbell (Wikipedia).
Jesse R. Gephart (director): https://www.facebook.com/jrgephart (Facebook page).
[RUN HAS CONCLUDED.]
Susie Potter is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer and editor. She is a 2009 graduate of Raleigh’s Meredith College, where she majored in English. She holds graduate degrees in teaching and American literature from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. In addition to her work for Triangle Arts and Entertainment, she is an award-winning author of short fiction. Her works have appeared in The Colton Review, Raleigh Quarterly, Broken Plate Magazine, Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley, the Chaffey Review, and Existere. To read all of Susie Potter’s Triangle Arts and Entertainment articles and reviews, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/susie-q/. To read more of her writings, click http://www.susiepotter.com and http://www.myspace.com/susiepotter.