Also see John's review of Thrill Me
Taking place in 1958 and 2008 England, we see how anti-homosexual referendums can affect a closeted married man, Philip, who has an "illegal" affair with a promiscuous, single gay male Oliver, and the interesting take on the wife, Sylvia, who, as it turns out, was responsible for their initial meeting. We see the men's attraction to each other, their affair, the knowing instincts of the wife and the attendant havoc that is wrought.
Add rape, aversion therapy, and a plethora of prurient dialogue, and you have a recipe that might have cooked to perfection, if several obstacles had not occurred.
The three lead actors play different characters in each era, while retaining the same names. Michael McKeever is terrific in the play's best written role, Oliver, taking the emotional roller coaster ride beyond what the words on the page impel him to do. As Philip, Bruce Linser has a tougher journey playing what is essentially, a cliché: the closeted, homosexual who runs the gamut of silent grief to explosive screaming harangues. That said, he does well with what is required. A new actress to South Florida, Faiza Cherie (love that name!) steals the evening due to several facts: she is a warm, sympathetic actress who knows how to underplay; she is drop-dead gorgeous, which never hurts; and, most important of all, she is the only actor of the cast of four who can do a believable, consistent British accent. When doing a British play, written by a British author, actors should be aware of a certain cadence and rhythm to the dialogue. I have found that when actors are more concerned about a dialect, the rhythm can be thrown and the anticipated effect unsatisfactorily unrealized. The fourth actor, Sean Dorazio, plays several comedic roles with a welcome energy that fills the stage whenever he appears.
I give director Andy Rogow credit for producing The Pride, a difficult play in a challenging space, and making an interesting evening of theatre out of what could have been a hackneyed, tedious one.
The Pride plays through June 22: Thursday-Saturday at 8PM and Sundays at 5PM Empire Stage Theatre 1140 No. Flagler, Ft. Lauderdale, FL. 954-519-2533 or islandcitystage.org.
-- Jeffrey Bruce