Who: Afterlife Theatre
What: Uninvited Guests
Length: 60 minutes
Where: Theatre Aquarius Art Centre (191 King William Street)
When: Remaining show February 19 at 6:00pm
To Buy Tickets: https://boxoffice.hftco.ca/event/866:740/866:5541/
Canada’s colonial history is an incredibly complicated topic. It has an influence on both the past and the present that not everyone likes to admit to, and it feels like there are hundreds of different questions to answer about it. Is a standard acknowledgement before each show really doing enough? Do the descendants of colonizers and immigrants bear guilt for the crimes of their ancestors? Does it even matter if they do, when so much is still wrong in the present day?
You might be expecting me to try and answer these questions, or to lead you towards how I feel about them. But the truth is, I’m not qualified to speak as an authority on any of this. Even if I was, saying too much would risk giving away spoilers or overshadowing the play itself, and as a reviewer you should always avoid doing either.
Instead, I would offer that Uninvited Guests makes a point of discussing them thoroughly; if you’re interested in hearing more about this topic, this show is a good place to get that. It has a creative premise delivered by intelligent, well-informed people, and it takes a creative approach to conveying their perspective on decolonization.
At this point, I should offer a disclaimer: this show is still a work-in-progress. The final product will be a one-act play delivered in three distinct parts, but the current version only contains the first third. Once it’s done, the show shifts from a play to a workshop, where the performers answer questions and ask for audience feedback.
In this, it becomes clear that the people putting this together know what they’re talking about. A lot of nuanced, critical thought has gone into what’s already there, and a lot more will go into developing the finished play. Even so, they’re genuinely interested in hearing the audience’s thoughts on what they’ve seen, and they truly seem to take everything they hear into account. Everyone’s voice is welcome there, and I really appreciate that about it.
Decolonization is a deep, complex, nuanced issue, and sometimes that can scare people away from it altogether. Some people act like they’re walking on eggshells, while others speak far too freely, and it’s difficult to find the right balance. Yet with Uninvited Guests, its current form as a workshop aims to bring the audience into the discussion. It makes a difficult topic just a bit easier to talk about, and I think we need more of that these days.
Thankfully, the question of whether or not to watch the show is relatively simple. If the complex issue of decolonization is something you need to avoid, then there’s no shame in finding something else to watch. If you have any sort of interest in the topic, however, then I’d definitely recommend checking this one out.