“Nothing happens when there’s a crisis except for work on that crisis; you’re a politician now, figure out what your beliefs are and get back to me.”
Proud – Michael Healey’s play, revived by The Alchemist Theatre Company has opened at the Finborough Theatre perfectly timed in a country that currently cannot stop thinking and talking about politics. Politics can be hard for people to understand, but here Proud encourages the audience to simply think about how the actions of these characters in power affect the world that we live in. You don’t have to be clued up on politics to understand the piece as long as you can relate to the people.
Directed by Jonny Kelly, this is a piece purposefully set in a farcical way to highlight the reality of many Conservative governments, as well as our own here in the UK and how some decisions made on their part can be seen as laughable – for example convincing a country to leave the EU with no plan for if/when that would happen. Although a farce, the comedy element is very subtle, seen through a fantastic performance of Jisbella (Emily Head) a new recruit of the Canadian conservative party. She is portrayed at times as a strong, intelligent female with depth to her character, especially in emotional scenes referring to her seven year old son. There are moments in the play where Jisbella delivers powerful speeches of feminism which are “as it is in today’s society” shut down by the domineering male characters, however this character is not silenced easily – “I’m talking, I care” – which Head performs with utter conviction and strength, keeping our attention with every word. Ironically being a female character written by a man it is unsurprising that Jisbella also has a ditsy side that relies upon her assets to be taken seriously. “Look at my tits, you know you want to”. These moments can sometimes be entertaining but far less so than her empowered side, I almost wish that her character had been written with less predictably female qualities.
Prime Minister (Nicholas Cass- Beggs) delivers some interesting lines, asking us what we actually believe in. Do we act on our beliefs or feelings and which one of these does a government manipulate to convince the people that they are doing what’s best and not for their own game. “Once in power, morals to the people change, we have to look out for ourselves” but ultimately Prime Minister reminds us that people do not want to be left alone – “people want a functioning society”. Cass-Beggs performs the role with a believable quality but at times slightly over played and distracting, possibly to make the audience question how genuine The Prime Minister character is.
Characters Cary and Jake, though brief, both (in particular Will Firth) deliver solid performances, I couldn’t help but partially feel that their characters were not quite necessary.
Overall, Proud is an intelligent, well directed and informative piece of theatre that must be seen by anyone wishing to open their minds to the world of politics and the world that we currently live in. “People will always have strong beliefs but we can always find things that we can agree on” A quote that perfectly sums up the piece. No matter what you believe you will leave the space agreeing with someone.
Proud is playing the Finborough theatre until 2 August. For more information and tickets, see the Finborough Theatre website.
Photo: Venus Raven