Last week I attended Have I None, a minimalist play set in a post-apocalyptic world. Taking place in the bowels of Captain John’s Harbour Boat floating in Toronto’s harbourfront directed by Lary Zappia and starring actors Dusan Dukic, Martin Julien and Dragana Varagic, this is a play for those who enjoy serious and intense visions that come to life not just on a stage, but around you. An interesting foray into the human need for memory, and the paraphernalia we take with us throughout our life related to memories, to exist to keep us grounded, for us to hold onto our identities.
Having read a review on BlogTO, I was expecting something different. From the description, I imagined the audience as set pieces within the play, with the actors moving around us all, and some grand light show to create drama.
Instead, upon entry into the world set up for this play, one finds oneself amongst a set of chairs – granted, set up around the main performance area in a horseshoe, and so less like an audience in front of a stage – on the outskirts of a minimal set: a toilet, a couple of hooks, a stairway leading down, a dangling overhead light, a table and a set of two chairs. These few items, combined with the inherent dinginess of boat around you and enhanced (rounded out?) by occasional lappings of waves against the hull provide all the atmosphere necessary to transport you to the land of stripped-away memory, illegal nostalgia, and madness that ensues.
Once the audience is seated, the play begins with a loud bang – a perhaps imagined, perhaps real – knocking at the door to this “home” the audience has invisibly invaded. The intensity only builds from this first moment, and one is captivated by the actors interacting with one another, with themselves and with their very few posessions.
The performance is intimate. Not only because it is a small space, but because one wishes to be close to the characters so as to be drawn into their ravings, and at the same time to draw a self-protective distance from them for the same reason.
As Have I None unravels, one struggles to understand what sort of apocalypse has gone on in the world outside the door we are not privy to see. It is interesting to watch how the so-called “untouched” inhabitants of this particular home react to the outside world, turned mad from the actions of a totalitarian government that has stripped everyone of all their memory-related belongings.
The theme is powerful: in a world where everything we relate to is becoming digital (photographs, music, art, to a lesser extent books – but the trend is there), what happens when all our paraphernalia is gone, and our digital memories have been erased (through data loss, or as is perhaps suggested in this play, through government regulation)? Where does our identity come from when our memories are gone? One can see how it affects the senile, those who’ve lost theirs already. Imagine a world in which this affects all ages: Have I None provides one with a chilling theory of what could happen in such a situation. Highly recommended, if only it were still running.