You Should Have Stayed Home

Hits Home YOU SHOULD HAVE STAYED HOME by Tommy Taylor (Praxis). At Daniels Spectrum, Aki Studio Theatre (585.

Hits Home YOU SHOULD HAVE STAYED HOME by Tommy Taylor (Praxis). At Daniels Spectrum, Aki Studio Theatre (585 Dundas East). Runs to October 26. $25, stu/srs $22. 1-800-204-0855. See listings. Rating: NNNN

The best political theatre rouses and entertains you while it makes you think. Tommy Taylor’s You Should Have Stayed Home does just that.

Based on his experiences during the G20 Summit in 2010, and the subsequent piece he wrote on Facebook, the show takes the form of a diary, recounting not just what Taylor did and what happened to him that weekend but also, on a subtler level, chronicling his growth into a politically aware person.

He’d never been to a rally before, but Taylor went on the Saturday afternoon to the free speech zone in Queen’s Park, quite a distance from the G20 meeting, and felt a sense of community and solidarity springing up around him.

He returned that evening with his girlfriend and another guy, hoping to share that warmth, but was caught up by chance with hundreds of others at a police barricade in front of the downtown Novotel. Carted off and locked up for hours in that infamous east-end detention centre, he saw that things seemed as chaotic and unclear for those in charge as for those being held.

The show could be presented as a stand-and-deliver monologue, but director Michael Wheeler gives it theatrical life, setting it in Scott Penner’s enclosure that stands in for the 10-by-20-by-8-foot screened cage, complete with doorless Porta-Potty, that held Taylor and 40 other men for most of the night. Kimberly Purtell’s lighting and Thomas Ryder Payne’s ominous sound design add to the show’s increasingly and intentionally claustrophobic feel.

The open and affable Taylor is more than a reporter, though, and it’s a fine stroke to have him introduce himself and chat with audience members before the show. It engages them in a personal way that makes the story he tells more powerful, dealing as it does with questions of humanity and a sense of an individual’s place and rights in our world, a world we often think is inviolable.

The events surrounding the G20 meeting may be history, but it’s a history we shouldn’t forget. And Taylor doesn’t allow us to do so, for a coda to the script (originally staged at SummerWorks 2011) brings us up to date and reveals that neither attitude shifts nor apologies from those in power are easy to come by.

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