Firehall Arts Centre’s latest staging of Playwright Drew Hayden Taylor’s ‘Only Drunks and Children Tell the Truth’ is an emotionally charged and intricately woven tale of the tragedy that befell many families during the 60’s scoop.
Audiences are immersed in the raw emotional reality of two women raised into different lives, trying to find some connection after the death of Anne their biological mother. Barb is raised with her family on a reserve in Otter Lake Ontario, and Janice is taken from her mother and siblings and raised in Toronto. These two sisters share with the audience the heart-wrenching journey each has taken after the fracturing of their family as they struggled to come to terms with the realities forced upon them by the Government.
The play begins in Toronto where audiences are introduced to actress Ashley Chartrand (Barb) and her boyfriend Rodney played by Braiden Houle, and his brother by choice Tonto, played by Chris Cound as they break into Janice’s apartment. Rodney, the group’s comedian, and Tonto the philosophical one, make light of the apartment and their breaking and entering while Barb ascertains that Grace (Janice’s biological name) is not home and has been gone awhile. Our trio contemplates what to do next after driving all this way when they hear Grace’s keys in the door and hide.
After a shocking discovery of her intruders, Barb introduces Grace to her boyfriend and his brother. The audience learns quickly that Chelsea Rose Tucker’s character Janice does not like being called Grace.
As the characters interact, the actors seem to wear into the dialogue like a tight fitting glove, each growing out of the script and into their individual, authentic characters seamlessly. The dialogue is simple, tactful, and delivered with charm.
After the introduction of the first act, the second act is an emotive display of the “truth” in the title, with Chelsea Rose Tucker’s genuine pain and remorse shining through her comedic display of intoxication.
In the closing scene, Janice/Grace (Tucker) displays her peacock feathers of trauma while standing above the gravesite of her biological mother, Anne. With visits from her sister Barb (Ashley Chartrand) and Tonto (Chris Cound) the dialogue is intricately woven into a tapestry of truth, each one transcending the cultural backgrounds of the audience members to the reality of the horrors inflicted upon our indigenous brothers and sisters. Chelsea Rose Tucker’s performance in this final scene is not a performance, it is a courageous and vulnerable revealing of her cultural wounds.
This play is not merely a couple of hours of entertainment, it is an integral beginning of the dialogue and sharing that needs to open up between all Canadians in order for healing, compassion, and justice to finally reach the indigenous peoples.
You can catch a show up till December 2nd. Make sure to get your tickets here.
– Eric Crawford and Celeste Lightfoot