Rating: Four eyes (out of 5)
starring: Andrew Moodie, Conrad Coates, Karen Robinson, George Seremba, Richard Yearwood and Catherine Bruhief
By Josh Brown
Riot is an eye-opening and hilarious look at racism in Canada in the ‘90s.
The play centres on six black roommates living in Toronto, all of whom have different views on and experiences with racism. All of their unique attitudes are revealed during the acquittal of six white police officers in the Rodney King beating and the riots that followed in both Los Angeles and Toronto in 1992.
The mastermind behind this uniquely Canadian script is Andrew Moodie, who also stars along with a strong eclectic cast as Alex, a middle-class-twenty-something homosexual.
The play doesn’t just deal with racism. Moodie manages to incorporate humorous scenes about everyday life that everyone can relate to, from safe sex to masturbation to fights over the remote control. The funniest scenes have a distinctive Canadian flavor to them, such as Alex saying “they’ll be selling snow cones in Haiti when the Blue Jays make it to the World Series.” Other jabs at the Toronto Sun, MuchMusic, CBC and a sexual fantasty about Bob Rae also provide a good laugh.
Throughout the play, the audience gets a sense of the severe racism in Canada through each character’s personal experiences. Wendel, an angry Nova Scotian who supports black unity, recalls being attacked by two white guys. When the police arrive to break the fight up, Wendel is the one charged with assault while the two guilty white men are released.
“I would have contested the charge but it looks so good that I beat the shit out of two white guys single-handedly,” says Wendel.
Good acting and a clever script help get the message of racism across to every race humorously and effectively, leaving the audience with a taste of what it was like to be black in Canadian the ‘90s.