Huff (4 stars)

This article is from 2018


Cliff Cardinal's one man show is brutal and darkly comic

Huff is an intense, punishing performance of raw emotion – a visceral portrayal of a family falling apart – that also examines the institutional and historical prejudices that have held back Canada's indigenous population.

Written and performed by Cliff Cardinal, this one-man play opens with its protagonist, Wind, suffocating himself with a plastic bag, gasping desperately for breath. It's a disturbing introduction, setting the tone for a show in which alcohol and solvent abuse is the norm, the trauma of suicide casts a dark shadow, and sexual assault has devastating consequences.

Cardinal immerses himself in the roles of the family members. His depiction of the three central siblings is remarkable – the aforementioned Wind; his younger brother, the loyal and innocent Huff; and the eldest, Charles, who has been damaged by foetal alcohol spectrum disorder. He's equally convincing as an emotionally stunted patriarch, an unsympathetic school teacher, a talk show host and an aggressive skunk, snapping in and out of character at the drop of a hat. His range and the energy he brings to each performance is stunning. A powerful, darkly comic show that explores the damage caused when people and cultures are written off as irrelevant.

Canada Hub @ Kings Hall, until 26 Aug (not 13, 20), 4.15pm, £11 (£9).


  • 4 stars

Cunning Concepts & Creations Huff is the wrenching, yet darkly comic tale of Indigenous brothers, caught in a torrent of solvent abuse and struggling to cope with the death of their mother. Their fantastic dream world bleeds into haunting reality, as they’re preyed on by the Trickster through hallways at school, the…