The Pride, Underbelly

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Originally written for Fest Magazine.

Three, as they say, is a crowd. This observation is certainly true for married couple Bruce and Linda, whose over-friendly next door neighbour James gradually wedges his way between them. So far, so familiar. The only difference being that Bruce, Linda and James are lions.

This funny little oddity from Australian company Perth Theatre is a surprising comedic treat. It only takes the performers to emerge in their fur-adorned onesies to conjure a grin, and from thereon in the quirky comedy carries the piece through. Initially arriving as an extra hand for Bruce’s home renovations, James shows an increasing interest in his neighbour’s life, leaving the alpha male scrapping for his pride in every sense of the word. It is—a lot like the increasingly desperate Bruce—a bit rough around the edges, but its charm begs forgiveness for its faults.

The offbeat humour also reveals small, quietly poignant truths. As newlywed infatuation melts into dull routine, something as simple as the transition from energetic high fives to resigned handshakes speaks powerfully of the fading shine of marriage. The seeming obsession with the feature wall jointly assembled by Bruce and James, meanwhile, is a hilarious but acutely observed comment on our impulse to acquire and improve, and a warning against DIY if there ever was one.

There is little particularly new or memorable being said here, and the running time could easily be tightened without much loss. But even if its only lasting image is of a grown man moonwalking in a lion onesie, it’s an image worth the flaws.

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