Maev Beatty and Michael Healey (photo credit: Sean Howard)
by Gregory W. Bunker
What happened at the Berkeley Street Theatre last night was genius. Proud is an important contribution to the discussion of identity and democracy in this country, accomplished by examining the not-so-evident agenda of the current government. It just so happens that this examination can be, conveniently, narrowed down to the vision of a single person. Michael Healey cleverly creates a well-researched piece of historical fiction to convey his analysis, and he mashes it up with some sexy to keep it funny and awkwardly human.
The unexpected sweep brings in rookie MPs new to the Prime Minister’s particular political brand. The plot revolves around the private coaching of one of these undisciplined backbenchers, a randy single mother named Jisbella Lyth (Maev Beaty). Initially it seems she is devastatingly (and perhaps a bit unbelievably—would she really not know what a riding is?) outwitted by the Prime Minister and his henchman, but she evolves quickly from rookie to ruse, and finally, to rogue. She seems like the perfect foil to a cold, calculating Prime Minister, but by the end the two reveal in each other some commonalities. The “meaningless sex” scene between them is the hilarious height of this dynamic. Through his process of coaching “Jis,” the Prime Minister reveals his political playbook and personal beliefs, and inadvertently becomes a stand-in father to her seven-year-old son (Jeff Lillico). Eighteen years later the boy enters politics himself, and in an interview Lillico’s character relays a remarkably sentimental and nuanced description of the Prime Minister’s past advice and intentions, while explaining his motivation for respectfully challenging his mentor’s ideas and direction for the country. It’s powerful.
To October 6
Read also director Miles Potter's first-person on preparation for the production