“Pride House” Makes a Surge Off-Broadway

Attending the new off-Broadway play, “Pride House,” brought back so many wonderful Fire Island memories for me.

It is written by playwright Chris Wiekel, directed by Igor Goldin, and produced by the not for profit theatre company The Other Side of Silence.

The play, is set on Cherry Grove, Fire Island at the quaint cottage known as “Pride House.” The year is 1938, before and after a major storm. The actors portray a group of Cherry Grove homeowners, house guests and neighbors.  

The talented (Jamie Heinlein) as Beatrice Farrar and her gay husband, Thomas Farrar (Patrick Porter) are separated, but still live together at their beach getaway, “Pride House.”

Arranging to have a cocktail party, the Farrars invite local friends and neighbors, along with their houseguests. The house guests are gay men who carry on with   lots of fun, laughing, and a few are dressed in soft drag.   

Among the neighbors invited, are strait-laced homeowner Irene Gerard (Gail Dennison) and her husband George (Desmond Dutcher). Irene is bold, somewhat of a trouble maker, as well as a gossip. The Gerards are not very happy to meet all their gay friends.  

It’s a story is about our treasured community on Fire Island. All the complaining and drama of the    surrounding atmosphere has not changed much over the years. Perhaps we have a fancier lifestyle than Depression era1938, but our concerns and aspirations are much the same.

Twelve accomplished actors have beautifully made this production warm and friendly.

I did not live on Fire Island back in 1938. However, when I did settle here in 1955, I was fortunate enough to meet the flamboyant Arthur Brill (Tom Souhrada) and the elegant Natalia Danesi Murray (Jessica DiSalvo) who have major roles in this play.

 Although I enjoyed the show, there are a few historical inaccuracies in the script which troubled me.

There was no “Meat Rack” in 1938, that term was coined in 1960, when police raids on those boardwalks shook the community to its core. Furthermore, the Cherry Grove Property Owners Association was not formed until 1948.

The people who live in Cherry Grove, then or now, gay or straight, attend cocktail parties Fire Island casual, not full-dress city attire. And while the set was designed beautifully by Evan Frank, but I suspect circa 1938 houses were not furnished quite so elegantly back then.

Finally, the names of a few of the fictionalized characters are too close for my comfort phonetically to that of real people who once lived here and were much beloved, yet their persona in this play are completely different. I know this because I had the pleasure of knowing those original characters in real life.

Still the show is great fun and very entertaining. 

Photo by Richard Rivera.

Pride House will continue its run through February 10, 2024.

The Siggy at The Flea theatre, 20 Thomas Street, New York City. Tickets are available at www.TOSOSNYC.org