Crawlspace houses lots of bitter truths

CRAWLSPACE by Karen Hines (Soulpepper ). At the Young Centre for the Performing Arts (50 Tank House). To April 15..


CRAWLSPACE by Karen Hines (Soulpepper ). At the Young Centre for the Performing Arts (50 Tank House). To April 15. $25-$50. soulpepper.com. See listing. Rating: NNNN

If youre struggling to buy a house in Torontos runaway market or just coming to the realization that you will never be able to afford one, Karen Hiness homeowner horror story is vicariously cathartic.

Having started off as an award-winning magazine article, and then premiering onstage at Videofag back in 2015, the show is Hiness mind-melting Kafkaesque saga about using her life savings to buy a tiny house, only to quickly become consumed by an array of unreported issues, including one stomach-churning doozy involving the mysterious crawl space.

As Hines relates, her plans for the ostensibly cute coach house were quickly reduced to trying to protect her investment, and then to simply unload the toxic property steps that left her deeply in debt and rightly embittered. Her well-crafted and at times very funny narrative reveals how problems with the house (no spoilers here) eventually affected all aspects of her life, including her work as a TV writer/actor, and how the usual sources of recourse city agencies, insurance companies, her realtor and the previous owner justified their failure to help.

Performing in the round with the aid of chalkboard diagrams, the captivating Hines spins a good yarn. More than a kvetching session, its a wider commentary on the moral and systemic flaws in our economy. And her struggle to cope with frustration, unanticipated adversity and hopelessness is relatable regardless of your housing situation.

Though this drama unfolded over a decade ago, the sting still feels fresh, and Hiness cautionary tale is, of course, more relevant than ever. Her giant middle finger to the system is potent therapy for everyone feeling left behind or shut out from the dream (or nightmare?) of home ownership.

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