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In a World Created by a Drunken God

by Drew Hayden Taylor

In his latest work, playwright Drew Hayden Taylor adheres to the dictates of classic, riveting theatre by presenting stellar characters struggling with hardcore moral questions, while inviting the audience to continue the dialogue after the curtain has dropped.

The play opens with Jason, a man of mixed native and non-native ancestry, packing his belongings amidst complete disarray; his most recent relationship has ended and he’s moving from Toronto back up to the reserve. His packing, however, is interrupted by a knock on the door.

Enter Harry Deiter, a well-dressed, seriously distressed American. He knows all about Jason, but Jason has no idea who Harry is or what he wants. He soon finds out, as Harry explains their connection and his mission, in a story that’s as intense as it is audacious.

As he has done before, Hayden Taylor deftly tackles the issue of a dominant imperial culture, but this time the setting is contemporary and the players have changed; what was once strictly British territory has been taken over by Americans. Both Jason and Harry are so well defined they materialize before the reader’s eyes, with each embodying prominent characteristics of the countries that produced them. While Jason is the embodiment of Canada’s crippling identity crisis, Harry represents the fox in sheep’s clothing who knows the price of everything but the value of nothing.

Hayden Taylor takes some subtle and not-so-subtle swipes at the obtuse nature of Americans while subtly weaving aspects of native culture into his narrative. Ever the consummate playwright, he pays homage to classic theatre while sprucing it up for the 21st century. The deus ex machina, for example, pays an uncharacteristically early visit at the end of Act One. This simple shift utilizes the ancient theatrical tradition, and then completely dismantles it by foregoing all possibilities of a pat ending. Smart, riveting, and yet complex.

Is anyone any further ahead at the end of In A World Created by a Drunken God? Not necessarily, but boy, the presentation sure is masterful.