- Craig Angus
- 7 August 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).