Father Land by Arthur Holden
October, 2008. A quiet Sunday morning in the suburbs of Montreal. Prosperous accountant Joe Keane is in his comfortable home with his brother Victor and son Eric. Fifteen-year-old Eric is supposed to be writing a history essay about Qusay and Uday, the sons of Saddam Hussein. But in practice, Joe is the one who’s done most of the work on the essay. Eric, meanwhile, is playing online poker with his uncle Vic, a recovering drug addict who’s in town for the weekend.
On this Sunday morning, Joe is planning to take Victor to see their elderly father at the seniors’ residence. But the plan is overturned when Victor reveals that, as a result of deeply irresponsible behavior, he owes money to a local mobster – money he doesn’t have – and the mobster is on his way over to collect. Victor needs help. The only one who can provide that help is Joe. The irresistible force of Victor’s desperation confronts the immoveable object of Joe’s indignation. Joe’s fury burns all the more fiercely when he realizes his own son is taking Victor’s side.
As Joe’s anxiety for his son and anger at his brother intensify, it dawns on him that his predicament is echoed in bloody history. He and and his brother are like Qusay and Uday. In Joe’s imagination, they become Qusay and Uday: protagonists of a mythic struggle played out in the dust of an Iraqi city in the turbulent aftermath of invasion. While the Montreal scenes unfold in naturalistic dialogue, the scenes in Iraq convey the heightened sensibility of an imagined world through the rhythms of iambic verse.
Alternating between the Keane family home and the Iraqi villa in which the Hussein brothers have taken refuge, Father Land advances toward twin resolutions: one decreed by history, the other by the unstable thing that is fraternal love. It is a story of fatherhood and brotherhood, an exploration of what happens to a man when loyalty runs out and all that’s left is rage.
Keywords: Fathers and sons, Montreal, Iraq war, Saddam Hussein, verse play, tragedy
Running Time: 100 minutes
Male Cast: 3