Eight Ways to Fate and All, written and co-directed by UBC creative writing professor Bryan Wade, was a provocative puzzle of a play. Tearing through the silence that often masks the topic of illicit opioid use, the play was performed in eight mini-stories that revealed the effects of opioid addiction in a variety of different lights. Some of the stories bombarded the audience with hard facts and statistics in an overwhelming tidal wave that solidified just how broadly opioid use can sweep across a population. Other stories were more focused on illustrating the effects of addiction on users, family and friends.
The slice of life perspectives portrayed throughout the play manipulated familiar situations, such as a high school party or bath time with a lover, to subtly integrate opioid use in a realistic manner. The audience laughed and cringed as these characters grew in shape, bonding with the quick snippets of these people by relating to their quirks. By the end of each of these stories, the viewer was left with a cold, stale emptiness in their stomachs as the scene faded out with no conclusive answer to how these characters’ opioid use would mold their futures and those of their families.
In that sense, the play was efficacious in presenting the everyday side of opioid use, which didn’t always end in overdose but maybe contributed to factors such as personality changes and neglect of responsibilities.
The only stories that connected in this play were the opening and closing ones. The play began with two parents discovering their son dead of an opioid overdose in the bathtub, while the story that wrapped the play up was an innocent scene of that same son playing in the bathtub as a baby. His parents smiled upon him, wishing he would never grow up but ensured that he would do great things when he did. This ending struck close at home in such a way that even audience members who came in with little knowledge to the extent of the opioid epidemic were now able to sympathize with affected families. Hearing the words “Momma’s gonna make everything okay” while watching this mother cradle her son’s lifeless head created a powerful sensation of longing and loss in everybody who gazed on in silence.
Eight Ways to Fate and All is a play that took the conventional stereotypes of substance abusers and shone upon them a realistic pathway towards understanding for all knowledge levels. It exposed a perspective not often made available to consider, that humbled and humanized opioid users and onlookers alike, making it a very worthwhile watch.