Is it really necessary to always find meaning in pain and suffering? For many people, finding lessons in sorrow is a necessity, because otherwise what is the point of experiencing anguish.
But what if we can’t find any answers, let alone wisdom, from misery? This question arose in my mind after watching Moss Park, which is running at the Great Canadian Theatre Company until February 8.
This hard-hitting play tells the story of Tina and Bobby, two struggling people in their 20s who live in the inner city.
Tina (played by Emma Slipp) lives with her mother and toddler Holly, but is on the verge of being evicted after falling several months behind on the rent.
Bobby (played by Graeme McComb) is Holly’s dim-witted father who has unrealistic dreams, such as his fleeting thought of being a rap star, while gravitating towards a life of crime.
This dark drama is George F. Walker’s sequel to Tough!, in which we first come across the teenage Tina and Bobby, who are expecting their first child. Fast forward a few years and Tina is once again pregnant.
The current story revolves around a conversation between the young couple who meet at a dilapidated park that it is covered in graffiti and garbage.
Confused and scared, Tina contemplates having an abortion because she does not see a realistic future in which she can afford to raise two kids. For his part, Bobby struggles with feeling inadequate, as his lack of skills and inability to hold down a job prevent him from supporting his family.
Given this plot it is inevitable that a series of difficult questions will arise. “What can we learn about class differences with this play?” I can hear the public think. “How can people escape several generations-worth of poverty? Why is Tina with Bobby? What will happen to Holly if her grandmother and mother end up on the street?”
For me, however, what struck me most about this work were not the potential questions it raises, nor the potential answers that could be given in a university class, or in a post-show chat over beers at a pub.
Rather, what grasped me was a dark feeling that I was watching hopelessness in its rawest form on display, and that no explanation or rationalisation on my part would make a difference for these two characters.
Whether you enjoy this brutal honesty in your theatre is up to you, but for me it was a sobering reminder that sometimes art can simply show us what is, and that includes being hopeless.
Moss Park plays at the Great Canadian Theatre Company until February 8. Tickets can be purchased online or at the box office.