In Praise of The Pride (with Bertie Carvel, Ben Whishaw, Daniel Evans, Hugh Dancy and more)

Alexi Kaye Campbell’s The Pride came back to London last week, timeless, tender, profound and this time unexpectedly topical: the play coincided with protests for Putin’s anti-gay russian laws.

It’s a rare modern play that I remember so many of its past productions: Although aware of the glowing word of mouth I missed the first production in 2008 at the Royal Court and I regret it ever since. Among other things, I had to wait for Almeida’s The Rope several months later to discover Bertie Carvel for myself. And in a case of ex post facto typecasting (I always wanted to use latin in my writing), I always thought that Bertie Carvel played Philip, while in fact he was Oliver.

JJ Field (Philip) and Bertie Carvel (Oliver) in the 1950s. Photo Tristram Kenton

JJ Feild (Philip) and Bertie Carvel (Oliver) in the 1950s. Photo Tristram Kenton

Every time I go to revstan’s flat, I see The Pride Playbill, from the off Broadway 2010 production, signed and framed on the wall. It’s hard to imagine a better fit for Oliver than Ben Whishaw, and the rest of the cast (Hugh Dancy, Andrea Riseborough and Adam James) was not shabby either.

Hugh Dancy (Philip) and Ben Whishaw (Oliver). Photo Sara Krulwich

Hugh Dancy (Philip) and Ben Whishaw (Oliver). Photo Sara Krulwich

In 2011, I managed my first production of The Pride by travelling to Sheffield: Daniel Evans as Oliver, Jamie Sives as Philip. I still count it as one of the best things I have seen in recent years. (This performance was also memorable for a different – shallow – reason: Richard Wilson, director of the production, was in the audience with Colin Morgan and we got a kick out of getting in the same train for the return journey).

Daniel Evans (Oliver) and Jamie Sives (Philip). Photo Robert Day

Daniel Evans (Oliver) and Jamie Sives (Philip). Photo Robert Day

And we are back in London and 2013: The Pride is playing at the Trafalgar Studios (I refuse to call it Trafalgar Transformed as the theatre is nowhere near as transformed as it needs to be). The play is as skin on skin touching as I remembered and the new cast does it justice and then some.

Al Weaver (Oliver) and Harry Hadden-Paton (Philip). Photo Mark Brenner

Al Weaver (Oliver) and Harry Hadden-Paton (Philip). Photo Mark Brenner

So who is next? The Pride is a play I am happy to see again and again. In the mean time the production at the Trafalgar studios plays until November and almost certainly I will fit in another visit.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s