For his 18th birthday party, boxing hopeful Lewis is looking forward to a night in with his boyfriend, his family and his homophobic trainer.
John Stanley’s new play represents a sterling attempt to marry farcical comedy with weightier themes.
Stanley writes in a wonderfully blunt comic style that admirably suits the comedy of manners that makes up most of the play. This tone dominates the work and problems arise when Stanley asks his audience to think much harder than any of his characters bother to.
Issues such as gay men in sports, Olympic aspirations and remembrance of the Admiral Duncan bombing dilute the focus and sit uncomfortably in the comic narrative established in the first act. Broad stereotypes exist here, but they are relatively believable and director Christian Durham keeps the pace up and brings this selection of oddball characters to life.
The casting is excellent and centres on a remarkably realistic performance from Jay Brown as the spoiled, buff 2012 hopeful Lewis. His lover, 20 years his senior, is thoughtfully portrayed by Nic Gilder.
Timothy Dodd puts in a super slimy turn as Lewis’ sports trainer and Emma Swinn gets most of the more sophisticated one-liners as Ally. Anna Lindup plays the outrageously doting working-class mother to great effect and Shana Swash is the put-upon sister charmingly underplayed but woefully under-written.
There is enough raw-material in Proud to make for a fun evening at this burgeoning new venue. With more work, it could become a thought-provoking and provocative evening too. Paul Vale