Last Tuesday I had the pleasure of going to the recently renovated Vancouver East Cultural Centre (the Cultch) Historic Theatre to see Ali & Ali 7; Hey Brother Can You Spare Some Hope and Change? And what a pleasurable and very thought-provoking experience it was.
The premise of the 85 minute show is that the two main characters, Ali and Ali, are facing deportation from Canada after an uber-secretive impromptu hearing held in the theatre when a member of the audience steps out of her seat and introduces herself as an RCMP agent with the capacity to present evidence. The evidence presented is made up of documents that are nearly totally blacked out, to the point that the defendants are unable to see what evidence is being presented against them.
The show alternates between hilarious and gut-wrenching. At one point, there is a puppet show on stage about the silly antics going on in the White House by Presidents Obama and Clinton (use your imagination and think intern). A very sudden transition takes place and the audience is brought back to the secretive hearing; one of the Alis shows the RCMP agent a photo of his six year old daughter. And then he adds that because of the political turmoil in his home country he has never had a chance to hold his daughter. The effect is immediate; the audience feels the loneliness that these characters live with.
A thought-provoking aspect of the performance was when the case of the Canadians who are being held on “security certificates” was raised. The case of five Canadians who are being held for unknown reasons; five Canadians who are unable to see the evidence that the government has used to incarcerate them for indefinite sentences. This is the Canada that these men have chosen to make their home.
Ali &Ali 7 is playing their final performance at the Cultch tonight, April 24th before moving to Burnaby where it will be presented in the Shadbolt Centre from April 28th to May 1st. After that it will be going on the road to Toronto.
I encourage you to go see this Neworld Theatre production and let me know what you thought of it. Perhaps you can explain to me why it is Ali and Ali 7, rather than Ali & Ali 2.