When the wear and tear of living have reduced us to little more than bone and flesh and the loss of reasoning, memory, function, and purpose in society has left us ostracized to near non-existence, who will compassionately cradle us to the grave?
Award-winning playwright Joan MacLoad’s Another Home Invasion is a heartbreaking cry of the silent victims of impending senility (namely, all) and thus the past, current, and forthcoming tale of the fate of our own beloved. If the material doesn’t already hit disturbingly close to home, it awakens you from denial.
“It’s not a matter of if, but when”, notes Mike Payette, in his final stint as artistic director of Tableau D’Hôte Theatre before taking the reins at Geordie Productions.
Herein, Payette showcases the exceptional talent of Deena Aziz, who carries an entire 80-minute monologue on her shoulders as 80-year-old Jean, a committed caregiver and relentless advocate for her aging spouse, Alec. Duty-bound to help him as Alzheimer’s deteriorates his condition but increasingly burdened by her all-consuming role, Jean’s long been planning for application and admission into the “Kiwanis”, a highly sought-out residential care facility in North Vancouver with couples’ suites and the luxury of a private kitchen. It’s the least unsettling home away from home that one could contemplate retreating into in this unceremonious passage of time.
Subject to the mercy of a callous social worker and the bureaucracies of a failed healthcare system, Jean is at the front line of her husband’s dementia, solitarily fighting for his welfare and the security of their relationship, family, property, and possessions. A compelling storyteller in this simple narrative, Aziz expresses her character’s strength, pain, and wry humour with great subtlety and nuance, succeeding in making of the mundane rituals of Jean’s life into something rather extraordinary.
(Not to be overlooked, Lara Kaluza’s minimalist set design is evocative of Jean’s idiosyncrasies and Audrey-Anne Bouchard’s lighting design is eloquently effective in casting a haunting shadow throughout the protagonist’s sombre musings.)
When a strange man suddenly enters Jean’s world and threatens to invade the couple’s dwelling, their ever-present distress is now further compounded by the fear of assault and theft of their personal belongings. Perhaps more pressing, however, may be the ongoing loss of sense of belonging as their physical, mental, and spiritual sanctuaries are robbed of familiarity, comfort, normalcy, and privacy. What, then, is the real threat when hopes and dreams have been infringed upon, personal dignity has been violated, and a life of service has become a thankless task?
An ode to the forgotten, the fading, and the forlorn, Another Home Invasion is powerfully sincere, bringing to empathetic light the tribulations of our marginalized elderly and their families — the unsung heroes and heroines — in their need for companionship and care at their most debilitated, vulnerable, and defenceless.
Review by Montreal Theatre Hub Editor-in-Chief Camila Fitzgibbon
Don’t miss this moving production from Tableau D’Hôte Theatre, playing at the M.A.I (3680, Rue Jeanne Mance) until March 26th. Tickets cost $25; seniors and students $20. Visit m-a-i.qc.ca or call the box office at 514-982-3386.