He sprawls on the floor, hands taped behind his back, a plastic bag duct taped over his head.
He speaks and breathes deeply.
He speaks and breathes as condensation collects inside the bag.
This is the opening of Huff, Cliff Cardinal’s play about three young brothers dealing with the death of their mother.
In Huff, Cardinal digs deep into the trenches of life on a poverty and addiction stricken northern Ontario First Nation reserve.
Cardinal drags his audience into the depths of despair, lifts them gently with moments of light and humour, then plunges deeper into the darkness than some imagine existed.
The 30-year-old is onstage alone for 70 minutes, yet he is not alone. He carries with him the spirits of his ancestors, allowing them to gleam through his eyes and speak through his voice as they divulge the mournful tale of generations.
He connects literally with his audience, often breaking the fourth wall, making both eye contact and physical contact, asking questions, seeking understanding.
Huff is a disturbing, compelling, imaginative and visceral show that will stay with viewers like the reeking bouquet of a skunk.
Part of the Belfry Theatre’s SPARK Festival, Huff is on until March 19. The show contains explicit language and content.