It’s not often in the theatre that you feel like you’re watching a nature programme. Especially when an Australian company are performing in fancy dress lion costumes. The Pride isbizarre and surreal, hilariously funny and, to my surprise, one of the most powerful moments of theatre I’ve witnessed here at the Fringe so far.
There are two mating lions growing their family, expanding their territory. But Perth Theatre Company domesticate this natural habitat into an average suburban house, where Bruce has just bought his wife, Linda, their first answering machine. Together, amongst giggles and high fives, they create the perfect jingle for a perfect couple so young and so in love.
As the play progresses, Bruce – now a proud father of cuddly cubs - a big, bushy moustache to match his big, bushy mane. A moustache on a lion? Genius. Bruce is the lion king, head of the pride. Cue conflict. In comes James, the new lion next door. He’s up for being best buddies with Bruce and even helping around the house. He’s quite a charming young man, surpassing Bruce’s attempts to get the feature wall ready for Linda’s sisters’.
Soon enough, James is bringing plants round for Linda, and Bruce is ageing even quicker, now wearing an even bigger, greyer moustache. In a desperate attempt to prove his love for Linda, he screams James out of his half-decorated mess of a house. It’s clear that Bruce is losing his manhood and pride. There’s a new lion king in town.
Finally, and now for that most powerful Fringe moment so far, Bruce and James fight it out – lion to lion. Bearing in mind the majority of this story has been cuddly toy cubs, scones and cake, decorating the feature wall, we’re suddenly and brutally, to a wild reality. I was shocked, exhilarated, and thoroughly entertained. The Pride is an unusual production. I find it difficult to explain, but I keep on recommending it nonetheless. It’s surreal and naturalistic. It’s both funny and tragic. It will leave you questioning which parts were about us and which bits about them, uncomfortably blurring the lines between humanity and animalism.
The Pride, Underbelly. 3-26 Aug, 6.20pm.