A love story that reaches across two time zones starts the New Year in style at the Theatre Royal Brighton.
Looking at changing attitudes towards homosexuality, The Pride, written by Alexi Kaye Campbell and directed by Jamie Lloyd, will visit the venue until January 18 as part of a limited UK tour.
Philip, Oliver and Sylvia exist in a complex love triangle, which spans over half a century, living and loving simultaneously in 1958 and the present.
As Jamie says, past and present worlds grind together and melt apart, yet the future and its promise of sexual liberation remains ever elusive, as societal repression gives way to self-deception.
“I have always told the actors that it is as if these three characters come from the same material in the two time zones, from the same clay that is just cut in half and moulded differently.
“To play it, the actors literally have to change every cell in their bodies in an instant, in just six second to change their entire costume, their entire mind set. You are watching two different stories, almost two different plays that reflect each other and mirror each other. It’s a very dynamic experience and a very surprising one.”
As Jamie says, one second the piece can be plumbing the deepest depths of humanity; the next the audience might find themselves laughing their socks off: “That’s something that you can only do in the theatre. I really don’t think that that would work on film.
“I directed the play originally in 2008 at the Royal Court, and only about 85 people saw it each night. It was a very, very short run.”
Jamie returned to the piece when he was putting together his London season last year: “I thought that what was happening politically and socially in the world, the stories coming out of Russia and so on, made it very relevant.”
So are we moving towards greater understanding and tolerance?
“There is a process. There are some big questions being asked. I know a lot of gay men are asking themselves that if they can now have a loving marriage, is there a necessity for the culture of anonymous sex?
“In the past, the culture was of secret, clandestine meetings in public toilets or parks after dark as a result of the terrible repression and oppression that they suffered. But now is that really a necessity, now that marriage is possible?
“Obviously what makes the play so resonant and the reason I wanted to do it again as part of my season is that background of equal marriage now. It was a huge revelation that this has happened. There is a huge amount of positivity, and it is juxtaposing that freedom that we have with what is happening elsewhere. England is one of the most accepting places to be gay or lesbian in the world. You juxtapose that with the horrific things that are happening in Russia and Cameroon, and we now discover that India has recriminalised gay sex, and that happened almost unnoticed.
“People are asking each other what is happening. It is about being yourself, about being brave enough to love and not to be thinking about what other people might be thinking about the choices you make. It’s hard for people to do and that it can be incredibly sad, but there is something very hopeful about this play that says that it will be alright. There is a feeling that good has to happen.”
Tickets on 0844 871 7650.