I hope you go see Proud.
I hope between roaring laughs at Healey’s razor sharp satire of Canadian politics, you’re struck by his generosity as a playwright. It would be painfully easy to write a one-sided, cardboard caricature of our current Prime Minister. But the PM who spends Proud’s 90 minutes mentoring a bawdy backbencher is as much a nerdish, awkward champion for Canadians as he is a vengeful, calculating robot. As he, his chief of staff and a lusty MP pull political pranks, Healey smoothly sneaks in a) an exposé of realpolitik b) an economics lessons c) philosophical musings on the power of belief and d) fresh sex jokes.
I hope you accept this as the kind of political comedy Canadians deserve.
I hope you ignore the ending monologue: Healey’s justifiable soapboxing on Canada’s political future that pales compared to the rest of the play, particularly with Kevin Gabel’s generalized delivery.
I hope the phrase “ass box” enters every day conversation.
I hope you love Ross McMillan’s take on Stephen Harper as much as I do. Performances so full of nuance and thought are rare. There are so many little moments McMillan adds on top of his desert-dry turn as Canada’s top control freak, most of the evening is spent wondering what gift he’ll give the audience next.
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I hope Eric Blais and Daria Puttaert keep getting roles outside their usual type casting. Blais’ weirdly creepy chief of staff nicely deflates moments when sympathy builds for any of the characters, hanging around as a reminder of the true nature of Canadian politics. Puttaert has more work to do as earthy rookie MP Jisbella Lyth, pushing the PM into compromising situations and essentially driving the action of the entire piece. She’s found a fun, outgoing physicality that keep Proud’s momentum up and nicely sets up McMillan’s stiff.
I hope any critic who thinks the depiction of a sexually aggressive woman is sexist questions their own ideas of gender roles and sexism.
I hope the joke about John Baird having a baby’s head on a man’s body always gets a laugh.
And I hope you stopped reading this review a few lines ago to get your ticket. Did you?
I hope so.
By Michael Healey
Rachel Browne Theatre (211 Bannatyne)
Through November 16
Directed by Ardith Boxall; with Ross McMillan, Eric Blais, Daria Puttaert and Kevin P. Gabel; set design by Brian Perchaluk; costume design by Angela Vaags; lighting design by Hugh Conacher; sound design by Chris Coyne; stage managed by Michelle Lagassé; assistant stage managed by Holly LaJambe.