Did you know that the UK’s first ever national Pride took place in Huddersfield in 1981? A diverse ensemble revisits this forgotten but significant chapter of LGBT+ history through a series of rousing vignettes.
Unsettled by homophobic political figures likening sexuality to fashion trends as well as the lack of historical records about this unique Pride march, producer Stephen M. Hornby felt urged to create ‘The Day the World Came to Huddersfield’. The stories are inspired by those who attended it; adroit direction from Helen Parry and Olivia Schofield ensures each one is dynamic and punchy throughout.
To kick off the evening, John Addy (Simon Hallman) recounts how his running of Huddersfield’s gay night club, The Gemini, became fraught with difficulties when new, anti-LGBT law enforcement threatened to ruin him and his business. Martin Green offers a tender portrayal of an older gay man, David Milton, who is exhausted by the constant shame others want him to feel, but he’s now ready to stand up. Meanwhile, James Steventon dishes out some comic relief as ballsy drag queen Bunny.
Bringing the lionhearted Iftikhar to life, Iman Borono addresses the added pressures of being both gay and Muslim with confidence and flair. Proud activist Deirbhile (Emily Spowage) and reticent police officer Moira (Sapphire Brewer-Marchant) discover how much they may, in fact, have in common. Patrick Price amuses with an expressive re-enactment of Mark Ashton’s first homosexual experience, but later closes the show with a powerfully pensive statement. It’s an instance of poignancy that leaves the audience spellbound.
Whenever the tone becomes solemn, Sabine Sulmeistere’s razor-sharp lighting accentuates these pivotal moments.
This is a joyous yet impactful piece that entertains while calling attention to the fact that Pride was brought up from London to Huddersfield to support Yorkshire’s oppressed gay community. ‘The Day the World Came to Huddersfield’ is an immersive theatrical experience that deserves to be treasured.
‘The Day the World Came to Huddersfield’ continues at The King’s Arms, Salford until 3rd July with tickets available from https://manchester.ssboxoffice.com/events/the-day-the-world-came-to-huddersfield/
Reviewer: Scot Cunningham
Reviewed: 1st July 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★