Canadians like to think of themselves as being the politest people on Earth. But according to Caroline Azar, it’s all a delicate delusion.
“We’re appropriate, for sure, but with an undercurrent of covert hostility,” she says. “I wanted to show us in a more truthful way. Not good or bad, specifically. Just as we really are.”
Azar’s play DINK takes aim at the notion of Canuck civility. The show centres on Deb and Bill, an archetypal double income/no kids pair. Happily married and living in upper-middle-class bliss, their blindness to the experiences of people around them eventually gives way to a harsh awakening. Moving between Gatineau, Quebec, and Kandahar, Afghanistan, the show explores hatred, misogyny, homophobia and classism in between Brechtian musical interludes.
A veteran theatre artist and the co-founder of the seminal punk band Fifth Column, Azar had her first jolt of inspiration while renovating her mother’s home.
“It took a lot of organizing, and I noticed these obsessive behaviours surfacing,” she says. “I was like a yuppie capitalist, disgusting myself as much as I found the bland sensation of it shallow and surprisingly easy.”
Clocking these tendencies, along with a murder case that was making headlines at the time, she set out to make sense of drama through drama, exploring the themes weighing on her mind through the world of the play.
Filthy, risky and romantic in equal parts, DINK reflects a side of our national identity we prefer to pretend isn’t there. Though the description sounds potentially preachy, her motivations in writing it weren’t about changing the world as much as simply reflecting it.
“I’m just describing what I see,” Azar says. “This show is a composite of present-day Canadian issues. For sure, it’s fun, but it’s a scary kind of fun. Welcome to our national consciousness.”