Another Home Invasion by Joan MacLeod (dir. Mike Payette) does not sound like the kind of play that one would usually rush out to see. But if you love great theatre and if you have ever known anyone who is aging or a caregiver, this play will resonate as no other. Joan MacLeod is able to take the most mundane and ordinary life and give it a passionate and scintillating shape.
Deena Aziz creates a kind of magical incantation on the stage where tiny events grow into monuments to the end of life in North Vancouver. Aziz is spellbinding as Jean, and engages the audience with impeccable timing and a depth of feeling which is rare. When she says that she had to wash the coverlet twice, and feels as tired as rocks, we are given to understand that her husband has soiled the bed twice and it is exhausting to keep washing the bedding. She must also feed and dress her husband and gets almost no sleep because of his shenanigans and her own nerves.
The husband’s slide into dementia and her determination to keep them intact as a couple are the engine of this remarkable and understated drama. There is a saying that “One woman can take care of ten children but even ten children cannot take care of one woman.” Although Jean has a daughter who comes to take care of her husband when she goes to aqua fit classes twice a week, and her granddaughter comes to do the vacuuming, Jean is left alone with a husband who frequently does not know who she is, or why they are together.
When the social worker finally comes to evaluate them for their next move, Jean, who has been keeping a record of all she does for her spouse in the hopes that it will speed up the process of their placement, realizes that there is no way they will be allowed to stay together at the idealised Kiwanis retirement home of which she has been dreaming. There is an actual invasion and it leads to a crisis. The real drama has been cumulative, and it is much to Mike Payette’s credit that he has calibrated this play perfectly, and one is riveted throughout. The invasion is the a metaphor for the indifference that has led to this lonely vulnerable and neglected state.
If you have a relative or acquaintance who is a caregiver, or living with someone elderly, give them a night out and take them to this play!
See “Another Home Invasion” at the M.A.I., 3680 rue Jeanne-Mance, until March 26. $25/20/17.