We, each of us in the civilized Western world, live in a space inviolate. “Our home is our castle,” as the saying goes: our shelter from the intrusion of the weather and other “outside influences;” our defence against physical and mental threats, real and imagined, to our private space; vault to our accumulated private property; theatre of our desires and aspirations; arena of our private victories and defeats, no matter how large or small; harbour of our secrets and fears; refuge to our children and family.
Yet the very protection and security our home provides us with also isolates us from our neighbours, our relatives, and the public affairs of our communities—constructs a garrison of anonymity around us and our loved ones in which we can become unknown, unloved—no one that anyone need be concerned nor care about.
We see the recent rise of home invasions in our society as a violation of our most intimate places: the perpetration of heinous crimes upon the aged, the disabled, the helpless, victimizing our citizens precisely where rules of hospitality and generosity should govern our social relations.
All this and more is the subject of Joan MacLeod’s perceptively poignant play, Another Home Invasion, where “another” carries both its meanings: something commonplace; and something of an entirely different kind and nature. Of course this play involves the hapless, substance-abusing, middle-aged petty criminal we expect to find there, but is he the real threat to the home’s occupants? He even shows up for a return visit.
Who, then, are the real perpetrators of the heartless betrayal of the elderly couple who lives here: who is it that’s robbing them of their possessions, their security, their relationship, their family—their home? The answers to these questions are as surprising as they are unsettling.