Indigenous playwright and performer Cliff Cardinal is one of the brightest-burning lights in Canadian theatre; he’s an energetic stage presence and a caustic and fearless writer. “Huff” is what you do with gasoline when you’re down and out, with nothing left to lose: you inhale the fumes and get high. Wind is one such solvent abuser. He and his brothers are caught in a cycle of despair and desperate escapism, grieving the loss of their mother and dealing with poverty, violence and more. In harsh circumstances like this you need to be resourceful in order to cope, and Wind’s way is to build a rich fantasy world.
It certainly takes imagination to create a show like this. Cardinal delivers a solo show with true gusto, giving us a multitude of characters, all unique but all part of the same harsh world. What the author offers us is humour at its blackest—it’s his way to confront pain, and to contain it. Opening the show with his hero on the verge of suicide, Cardinal continues unrelenting, daring us to reject him and confident that we’ll instead be riveted. It’s a boldly conceived work—very personal and, therefore, very original. This is laughter in the dark, served straight up with no apologies.
It reaches inside and grabs you so hard that you forget it’s make-believe.