Keith Barker, the playwright of The Hours That Remain, has taken on a challenging project as he explores the aftermath of a loved one’s disappearance. He has executed it with elements that I would describe as shape-shifting and magical realism. (I’ll not say more because this play is essentially a mystery wrapped inside a series of mysteries.)
The play spans a five-year period during which Denise (Cheri Maracle) searches for her sister Michelle (Cherish Violet Blood) while Denise’s husband, Daniel (Ryan Cunningham), waits for her to return home after her searching escapades. Michelle had disappeared after her shift as a waitress near British Columbia’s infamous Highway 16, and Denise is ‘haunted’ by regular sightings of her sister. The situation becomes more curious when we learn that Denise’s husband cannot see Michelle. As the sightings increase, the marital frustration mounts; the ending is as close to heart-breaking as I can imagine.
Much happens on this small set. Ostensibly, it’s the interior of a home, but with the sound and lighting effects, the actors are frequently placed at the side of a highway.
There have been only a few plays in my theatre-going years when I’ve been compelled to purchase the script. This play was one of them. I appreciated how Mary Francis Moore envisioned Barker’s words on the page to honour the missing and the murdered. The Hours That Remain shines a light into the dark corners of news coverage, police investigations and our justice system. I will be curious to see how the next director stages it.
The Hours That Remain is playing at Theatre Aquarius in Hamilton until May 7th, 2022.
Bonnie Lendrum is the author of the novel Autumn’s Grace, a powerful commentary on the need for well-organized and well-funded palliative care in private homes and in residential hospices.
©2022, Bonnie L. Lendrum.