The Pride makes the Lion King look like a bunch of pussies! Fact is, this small theatre production completely packs in the laughs, in amongst a little dark drama. I pissed myself laughing most the way through as much at the script as I did at the delivery. Head down to the Bondi Pav, grab a corona from the bar and switch that bloody phone to silent cos this fake fur clad cast is about to remind you why live theatre kicks TV arse.
Pride certainly is a strong theme and is explored and shared in many different facets. The cast and director decided on characters with lion behaviour first. It was later when they got together and played around with the dynamics of the three actors that pride, as a theme, emerged.
Bizarrely enough in the early days we looked a lot at the relationship between Jesse James and Robert Fort care of Brad Pit and Casey Affleck, the dynamic where adoration turns into rivalry. With a slight stylistic side step and some help from Sir David Attenborough we arrived at The Pride.
Hence the story line: Bruce, weighed down by his impressive mane, is struggling with the pressure of renovations and taking care of his pride. Bruce knows time is limited, when James, his stronger, more handsome neighbour, starts peering through the windows admiring his home and his family.
It’s clear from the performance and delivery that the crew are tight. Side Pony, the production company, has been at it since 2005 and Director Zoe Pepper is the driving force behind the company with Adriane Daff, Side Pony’s loyal Artistic Associate. As for the cast, Brendan Ewing and Adriane Daff have a good thing going on with Side Pony. They have worked with Zoe together a number of times since all graduating from the same course at WAAPA. Russell Leonard, who plays James, is a flashy new edition to the fold.
Some might think the biggest challenge for live theatre actors is competing with TV. But truth is, faux fur onesies have their own shortcomings.
The sweat is palpable in those onsies and the humidity of Sydney has really raised the bar on jumping around in fake fur in summer. Other than that the challenges have been around walking the fine line between comedy and tragedy and fine tuning the actors performance to find an authenticity in the absurdity of the world of people in lions suits.
Which I must add, as odd as it was to see actors in lion suits on stage at first, somehow it very quickly became plausible, even though the show had us in hysterics. So much so that I thought for sure that it must just be a challenge to not laugh, when you’re not meant to, acting alongside Brendan (aka Bruce in The Pride). His gesturing alone is hilarious.
People who know Brendan seem to suffer a serious affliction where he can do next to nothing to make you lose your shit laughing. Adriane suffers, badly at times, and she often looks upstage to check on the feature wall during the epic dinner scene where Bruce gets wild. There’s been some funny shows where the audience seems to collectively get the giggles and then its a struggle for everyone to keep a straight face.
The show first played at The Blue Room Theatre in Perth, back in 2010. After winning a few awards and some great audience feedback it went on to present seasons in Brisbane as part of the Under the Radar Festival, a second Perth run with Perth Theatre Company and a season at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival at Underbelly. Although there aren’t any concrete plans for future seasons of The Pride right now, the crew are keen to take it to other capital cities. You should be so lucky people! I mean this show was a total reminder of the joys of theatre.
Theatre is a really visceral experience; with theatre you are sitting in a room full of real live people, and collectively the performers and the audience are creating a unique experience every night. Yes there is a tightly rehearsed script but the nuance of its delivery responds to the atmosphere in the room, keeping the performance dynamic and fresh.
Although there is no “Pride 2” (yeah I loved it that much right?), the crew have a bunch of ideas they are working on at any given time, all as dark, funny and twisted as The Pride. Side Pony’s next big thing is The Confidence Man, which is an interactive audio work that they premiered in Melbourne last August at ArtsHouse.
This is a really different show, in that the audience performs. The Melbourne season went really well so we now have a season in Perth in June and a national tour is currently getting lined up for late 2015, which we are super excited about.
For now I totes recommend getting on down to Bondi to catch The Pride. It was the best entertainment in a while, topped the outdoor cinema even. Oh and the tunes.. and the dancing! That you’ll have to find out for yourselves…
We are really excited to be able to present this show in Sydney, with the help of Tamarama Rock Surfers and we would really love people to come down and check it out. We know Bondi can be a bit tricky to get to, but you really wont be disappointed if you do make the hike!
Season Dates and Times
Tue – Sat 8pm, Sat Matinee 3pm
Please note that the Saturday 22 Mar matinee has been cancelled. (YM suspects the onesies are booked in for dry cleaning that arvo)
Season 20 Mar – 5 April