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huff

Play Synopsis

The play opens with Wind, the story’s narrator, making a direct appeal to the audience to intervene in his suicide attempt by removing a plastic bag from his head. Wind is a young First Nations boy who is close with his younger brother Huff, and intimidated by his older brother Charles (who has Foetal Alcohol Syndrome). After their mother’s suicide by hanging, the boys have been raised by their father (Dad) with support from their Kokhum (grandmother) and Dad’s girlfriend, Donna.

Their creativity occasionally elevates them, and they find companionship in anthropomorphizing elements of their environment (their dog, their gaming system, a skunk and its smell). Huff and Wind are coming of age under Charles’ influence, which includes exposure to pornography, violence and affordable substance abuse – huffing gasoline. Troubled by their seeming powerlessness, the boys hang out in a disused motel where they engage in numerous acts of escapism including self-asphyxiation and fantasy-making.  

A careless accident with cigarettes results in a porn magazine catching fire.  As its pages spread, the magazine becomes a black raven and ignites the motel and surrounding woods. Fleeing the fire, Huff and Wind are accosted by a skunk, who sprays them when their dog goes on the offensive. Huff, Wind and the dog bathe in tomato juice to eradicate the Smell, which is personified as an aggressively rude antagonist who heckles the proceedings.

Charles uses his knowledge of the motel fire to coerce oral sex from Huff, and eventually rapes him. When he is caught watching Donna in the shower, Charles tells his father about the fire to evade a beating. 

Dad, Donna and Kokhum argue about whether the boys should turn themselves in. Wind runs away while Huff remains behind to clean up the tomato mess. Despondent over Wind’s absence, Huff asphyxiates with a belt to get high, but kills himself.  Kokhum finds Wind.  The news of Huff’s death makes Wind stop believing in everything; he no longer believes that the dog can talk, that his mother ever loved him, or that the Creator gives sacred gifts.      

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