Proud, the latest offering from The Lost Theatre group, capitalises on the Olympic fever currently sweeping this great nation.
Centred around the eighteenth birthday of Lewis, a young boxer who is struggling to find his footing when it comes to maintaining a gay relationship and protecting himself from the inherit homophobia that is embedded within the sport.
Directed by Oliver Jack, who certainly knows what his predominately gay audience likes, we’re met with a near naked Lewis early on in the show. Lewis, a young, good-looking lad, played by Parry Glasspool is convincing in his portrayal of his inner-turbulence, although somewhat overacted. Many of his lines were delivered with seemingly well-considered movement and expressions, which however on execution came across as a little two-dimensional. Lewis fears that his selection for the GB Olympic team will be shattered if his sexuality was revealed. Further to this, his big fight clashes with anniversary of the nail bomb attack on the Admiral Duncan in Soho, London; in which his boyfriend was lucky to escape. The exchanges however between Glasspool’s character and his lover Tom, played by Matthew Hebden were considerably more ‘fresh’, allowing a rapport and considerably more concern within the audience to develop for his plight.
Lewis’ mother was played by Virginia Byron who stole the show. Byron was fortunate to have an incredible number of witty lines that she was able to deliver with impeccable timing. Byron’s character, although pivotal, did provide a great deal of the comic relief for this show. Like Glasspool, Byron’s delivery initially was perceived as superficial; however as the show progressed she quickly warmed in to the emotional element of her role, despite the very ‘over the top’ facade.
Proud does seem to draw on every stereotype and cliché imaginable, making the story somewhat predictable. While this has not been done in any crude manner, one does wonder how much thought and inspiration went in to the development of the story and the role each character may play.
Proud could be described as the meeting ground for Jonathan Harvey’s Beautiful People – a much loved show that is now considered a classic – and La Cage Aux Folles by Harvey Fierstein and Jerry Herman. Filled with likable characters and an on-going attempt at deception and hidden identities, Proud written by John Stanley, may quickly develop it’s own little resting place along with those memorable and historically-important shows.
Proud runs at The Lost Theatre from 27 July – 12 August 2012. Tickets are available by phone (0844 847 1680) or online via the Lost Theatre website.