Friday, September 22, 2023

Frost Bites Review: You Should Have Stayed Home

Who: Tommy Taylor
What: You Should Have Stayed Home
Length: 55 minutes
Theatre Aquarius Art Centre (191 King William Street)
When: Remaining show February 20 at 7:30pm
Tickets: $15.50
To Buy Tickets:

A sad truth in our society is that not all social and/or racial groups are treated equally. Some face injustice every day, while for others it’s distant and forgettable; something that only happens to other people. But every so often, something happens that unites all of those people in a shared experience, and gives those who face less oppression a glimpse into what others live through. These experiences aren’t always positive ones, and the events of the G20 protests are among the worst in the last few decades.

Tommy Taylor is one of over a thousand people who were unlawfully arrested during the G20 protests, but when a Facebook post detailing his experience went viral, he became one of the most well-known victims of the anti-protest crackdown. He was held for around twenty-four hours in appallingly inhumane conditions; but he also triggered the eventual exposure of what really happened that day. Now, over a decade later, he once again offers his personal account of those life-changing twenty-four hours. At a time when history seems to be repeating itself, he offers the firsthand experience of someone who’s seen it all happen before.

Taylor is clearly skilled as a storyteller and public speaker. His delivery is consistently clear and engaging, as well as highly entertaining whenever it’s appropriate. He has an excellent sense of flow and pacing, easing the audience in and then slowly building up to his inevitable arrest and detainment. He knows when to tell a joke, when to be serious, and when to let the evidence speak for itself. His use of photos and videos via a projector helps to set the scene, while his clear and direct manner of speaking adds context and detail.

All together, it paints a fairly clear picture of what he experienced; even if you’ve never gone through something of this magnitude before, you can still imagine what it might have been like. Taylor hides nothing, nor does he sugarcoat any of the details, yet I can’t help but feel as if he made it easier to digest. His is certainly not the only firsthand account, but he takes his audience into account in a way that few others would.

You Should Have Stayed Home is a deeply important show in this day and age. It tells a story that every Canadian citizen should know, and recounts a day that no one should ever forget. Even as it exposes the sheer brutality with which defiance can be punished, it also reminds us of how important it is to stand up for what’s right. We should always expect justice and accountability from those in power, and we should be willing to pursue those ideals ourselves when neither one is forthcoming. You don’t have to do it by rioting or protesting, either. You can make a statement, tell a story, or otherwise spread awareness of your cause. Tommy Taylor did, and it’s the very reason his show exists in the first place.

Arthur Bullock
Arthur Bullock
Arthur Bullock is a graduate of McMaster University, Mohawk College and Algonquin College. He's spent nearly all his life in Hamilton, and has been reviewing plays at the Fringe since 2015. He has a passion for writing of all kinds, and loves to combine that with a longtime interest in local theatre.

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