Reconfiguring Home: Geopathology and Heterotopia in Margaret Hollingsworth's The House That Jack Built and It's Only Hot For Two Months In Kapuskasing

Marlene Moser

Una Chaudhuri utilise le terme «géopathologie» pour décrire la problématique de l'emplacement en théâtre moderne et les représentations possibles qui en découlent: la victimisation que représente le fait de demeurer en place, et l'héroïsme du départ. Cet article démontre comment les pièces The House That Jack Built et It's Only Hot for Two Months in Kapuskasing de Margaret Hollingsworth situent au premier plan la problématique de l'emplacement. La présente lecture de ces deux pièces souligne la manière dont les espaces «hétérotopiques» sont liés aux récits multivalents et offrent des constructions de rechange de la représentation et de l'identité.

The home is a central conceit in several of Margaret Hollingsworth's plays and is most often a metaphor for the identities of those who inhabit it. In Mother Country, for example, the house is almost literally adrift—it is set on an island and has been built to resemble a captain's cabin. The play concerns displaced children coming to terms with their own rootlessness.1 In Islands, Muriel's journey to reconstruct her emotional self and to renegotiate her relationships with her mother and her former lover, Alli, is represented by the house Muriel undertakes to build. In an interview, Hollingsworth describes this continuing preoccupation with the home and how it resonates with her experience as an immigrant to Canada:

Home comes in again and again in my work. It's about relating to the place that you're in and finding a place for yourself in a foreign environment, which is what I'm doing. Feeling out of context, out of place, motivates me and informs my work.Without it I wouldn't be writing anywhere. It's very important to me and yet at the same time it's unsettling; it's something I have to keep exploring. (The Work 93)

This feeling of being "out of place" extends to Hollingsworth's experience as a playwright within the professional world of Canadian theatre. As Hollingsworth herself notes, much of her feedback comes from academic circles (Fair Play 149). In the introduction to Endangered Species, Hollingsworth emphasizes that women have a difficult time getting their plays produced and published in Canada. In Endangered Species, she declares the collection was written "out of perversity, I suspect, and certainly not out of any commercial instinct" (7). She undertook the publication of it herself: "I became so tired of having plays just lying around with nothing happening to them. It occurred to me a long time ago that I should publish them myself, but that takes a lot of money and energy" (Fair Play 148). At the time of publication of Endangered Species, the four one acts had received workshop productions, but not one full production.

In content and form, Hollingsworth's plays also embody this feeling of being "out of context, out of place." As Hollingsworth states in her introduction to Endangered Species, her preoccupation is with marginalized women: "All the plays are preoccupied with male/female relationships. I am looking at the ways in which women have been marginalized. Almost all the female characters are in a state of flux. They are caught in inappropriate relationships, and the question of what is 'appropriate' arises" (7). Her plays themselves often teeter on the border of realism. Marc Maufort analyses her work by tracing Hollingsworth's rejection of conventional realism through a discussion of Ever Loving, Diving, and In Confidence. He concludes: "In truly postmodern fashion, she deconstructs the very foundations of realism and posits instead an unfixed concept of reality" (43). Ric Knowles comes to a similar conclusion in his formulation of the "dramaturgy of the perverse:" "Hollingsworth neither rejects the symbolic structures of modernism nor simply parodies them; rather she is engaged in a process of creatively perverting and reshaping those structures" (230). It is with this attention to a feminist sensibility and postmodern dramaturgy that I will discuss the first two plays in Hollingsworth's collection, The House That Jack Built and It's Only Hot for Two Months in Kapuskasing, and consider how place becomes a metaphor for identity. The expression of these ideas becomes clearer in a paired reading of the plays.As Hollingsworth herself mentions, these two plays were meant to be presented together (Endangered Species 10). In these plays, representations of home and sexual identity are closely linked to narrative structure. In her interrogation of a linear narrative form, Hollingsworth also interrogates containments of subjectivity, suggesting instead heterotopic spaces and more fluid articulations of identity.

In Staging Place: the Geography of Modern Drama, Una Chaudhuri discusses the "the problem of place," what she terms "geopathology," which is especially characteristic of modern drama. In the plays that she discusses, Chaudhuri describes how "who one is and who one can be are [...] a function of where one is and how one experiences that place"(xii).A connection between plot and subjectivity is made explicit in the early symbology of home:"The dramatic discourse of home is articulated through two main principles, which structure the plot as well as the plays' accounts of subjectivity and identity: a victimage of location and a heroism of departure" (xii). The victim or the hero is explicitly linked in "geopathological" plays to staying or leaving the home. What is presupposed in this correlation between identity and space is a model of coherence. This condition is supported by the staging practices of naturalism: "The fully iconic, single-set, middle- class living room of realism produced so closed and so complete a stage world that it supported the new and powerful fantasy of the stage not as a place to pretend in or to perform on but a place to be, a fully existential arena" (10). Chaudhuri notes, for example, how "Ibsen's famous interactive architectural symbols— his climbable towers, slammable doors, and burnable buildings— help to construct domestic space as a problematic: both the condition for and the obstacle to psychological coherence" (8). These either/or choices of staying (victim)/leaving (hero) point to the "tragic impasse" (15) of geopathology. As Chaudhuri points out, the struggle of geopathology "unfolds as an incessant dialogue between belonging and exile, home and homelessness" (15).

Alternatively, "postgeopathological" plays envision a "heterotopia," "a place capable of containing within it many different, even incompatible, places" (15). The notion of heterotopia is also intimately linked to a postmodern sensibility, as Tobin Siebers makes clear in the introduction to Heterotopia: Postmodern Utopia and the Body Politic. He describes the paradoxical yearning of postmodernism:

Postmodernists, then, are utopian not because they do not know what they want. They are utopian because they know that they want something else. They want to desire differently.What distinguishes postmodernism ultimately is the extremity of its belief that neither utopia nor desire can exist in the here and now, and yet, paradoxically, this belief makes postmodernists want them all the more. (3)

The heterogeneity and multiplicity that characterize postmodernism are maintained within this vision: "What postmodernism tries to do [...] is to create a picture with emphasis on all the parts, while avoiding conflictual dualism, and to collect and to combine as much as possible into a new vision. This desire defines both the politics and aesthetics of postmodernism" (Siebers 8). A different formulation of subjectivity must also be envisioned. Retaining a hold on the liberal-humanist idea of the self defeats the purpose of imagining new ways of structuring knowledge and behaviour:

For what is this subject, that threatened by loss, is so bemoaned? Bourgeois perhaps, patriarchal certainly— for many, this is indeed a great loss—and may lead to narcissistic laments about the end of art, of culture, of the west. But for others, precisely for Others, this is not a great loss at all. (Owens 78)

A new formulation of identity must be imagined along with the heterotopic spaces.

Chaudhuri associates heterotopia in large part with the drama of multiculturalism (15), as does Tobin Siebers:"The trend toward multiculturalism is [...] one of the most popular and best signs of the influence of the postmodern ethic. It is at once a utopian dream about a harmonious planet and a dream about wholeness in which various parts are allowed their autonomy" (Siebers 7). Hollingsworth notes how her own experiences as an immigrant to Canada inform her sense of being "out of place."Plays such as Ever Loving and, to a certain extent, In Confidence, attempt to articulate the experience of the immigrant. There are many contemporary Canadian plays which lend themselves to this kind of analysis in their focus on borders and transformative experiences that involve multiple places and shifting identities, such as Guillermo Verdecchia's Fronteras Americanus and Monique Mojica's Princess Pocahontas and the Blue Spots. Hollingsworth's plays, The House that Jack Built and It's Only Hot For Two Months In Kapuskasing, while not focused on the experience of the immigrant or multiculturalism, afford a different avenue of analysis into heterotopia in their examination of the dynamics of the couple as another extended metaphor for the heterotopic imagination. In these plays, as Siebers suggests, the utopia that postmodernism envisions, in which differences are equally entertained, finds its counterpart in the model of community based on the romantic couple: "We now conceive of utopia according to sexual politics" (Siebers 9). The paired reading of these two plays, in their focus on the romantic couple and a male-female dynamic, also draws attention to the investment that feminism has in realizing heterotopic spaces. Problems of agency modelled on the modernist self which geopathology fosters are critiqued in the first play, The House that Jack Built. The second play, It's Only Hot for Two Months in Kapuskasing, provides a working out of a different conception of agency through postmodern models of identities which do not depend on the victim/hero duo, realized in representations of spaces which are heterotopic.

Heterotopic plays, according to Chaudhuri, seek to "deterritorialize" space without falling into the "tragic impasse" of geopathology. But how does one achieve this "deterritorialization" when the postmodern is notoriously slippery in its evocation of a solution? Angels in America, one of the plays that Chaudhuri considers near the end of her book, most nearly achieves that heterotopic space by suggesting "a new theology of constant motion" (259):

The greatest achievement of Angels in America, it seems to me, is that it decisively overthrows this oppositional structure on which geopathology was based [home and exile] and sketches out an alternative, heterotopic ideal, a vision of place as combining the local and the global, habitation and deviation, roots and routes. (259)

Solutions must question the very terms on which the problem of place is constructed and not fall into the trap of reifying structures of thought.

Both Siebers and Chaudhuri point out how foregrounded narrative is linked to the realization of heterotopic spaces. In particular, Siebers notes the importance of narrative in postmodern aesthetics: "Postmodernism creates its idea of utopia by affirming the desire to bring things together and by insisting that the story of the assembly be told. [...] Unlike modern art, which actively excludes narrative from its aesthetics, postmodern art wants its audience to hear the story behind the object and works hard to tell it" (10-11).Chaudhuri analyzes in detail plays which respond to, if not find a solution for, geopathology, in their telling of stories as a kind of "basic unit of a new system of self-location" (137):

Each of these plays has narrative as one of its subjects, and each of them, with very different effects, frames narrative within a problematic of language. [...] It [this approach] posits a new kind of placement, not any one circumscribed and clearly defined place but in the crossroads, pathways, and junctions between places. At the extreme it advocates a new kind of placelessness that departs decisively from Ibsen's utopianism, suggesting instead the possibility of a polytopianism: placelessness not as the absence or erasure of place but as the combination and layering, one on top of another, of many different places, many distinct orders of spatiality. (138)

In these plays, an intimate connection between multivalent spaces and multiple, foregrounded narratives is suggested and affords alternative subjectivities.

It is with attention to both politics and aesthetics then, that I will discuss The House That Jack Built and It's Only Hot for Two Months in Kapuskasing in their reconfiguring of home and suggestions of heterotopic spaces that are linked with the rejection of patriarchal models. In The House That Jack Built, the relationship among home, narrative, and identity is made apparent, especially as Jack's story about the building of their house simultaneously constructs a particular identity for his wife, Jenny. Who she is becomes a function of where she is.Both the house that Jack builds and the story that Jack tells move resolutely towards completion and closure, and Jack's wife Jenny is caught within their uncompromising trajectories. Although Jenny attempts to find ways to disrupt the building of the house and to articulate a different kind of identity than the one Jack's narrative prescribes for her, her rebellion is contained. Although the narrative voice of the slides and the theatricality of the setting and props serve to ironize the story that Jack tells and to which Jenny succumbs, the play is still largely "geopathological." Jenny seems to have little choice but to stay or to leave.As its counterpart, It's Only Hot for Two Months in Kapuskasing suggests a representation of space which is more obviously heterotopic, accompanied by a more fluid narrative form. The Visitor is spatially dislocated; similarly, she is caught in the machinations of a narrative which has no linear, logical progression and no primary narrating agency. The formal device of the inner voice is used as an implicit critique of a narrative that attempts to progress in a linear fashion. Ultimately, the feelings of displacement and the proliferation of narratives provide multiple possibilities for identities, especially sexual identities. The two plays, as they are read together, demonstrate an ongoing relationship between narrative and its unfixing, home and its deconstruction. These principles animate "heterotopia," and, in these plays, afford an alternative to patriarchal and modernist constructions of identity.

The action of The House That Jack Built is the building of a home and the telling of a story.2 Not only does Jack spearhead the building of the house, but he also controls the story that will be told. For the most part, events are narrated directly to the audience. Although the play fluctuates back and forth between overt diegesis, the telling of the events, and mimesis, their enactment, Jack is the force behind building the home and he is also the primary narrator of events.His control of the diegesis is linked to his willing accommodation to a traditional narrative structure and conventional gender expectations:

JACK. ...So I built her a house. I mean, what more can a man do for his wife? You meet a girl. It's too soon. High school, but what can you do when she's the right one. Chew on your nails? Jerk yourself off? No.You buy her a ring, right? You buy her a ring, and then you marry her. You do it right. You work for her, and you just have to hope she doesn't get herself pregnant before you've got her a house. That's the way it is. I mean you tell me different, don't matter who you are. There's no other way when you come right down to it.
JENNY. There's no other way. (12)

Jack aligns himself with a master narrative; he positions himself and Jenny within a patriarchal, heterosexual, middle class matrix. He constructs Jenny's subjectivity and directs her response as well as the audience's. His use of a universal "you" interpellates a spectator who is also heterosexual and patriarchal.

Jenny has internalized Jack's construction of her and displays limited agency within the story that is being told. Jenny's attempts at narrating the story of their life together are more hesitant. The first extended attempt at narration, a story about Jack's canoe trip, is cut short.When she describes how he brought back a thermos containing ice from an iceberg, she loses confidence in the telling of story, and, perhaps, in the authority of the facts which she is relating:

JENNY. He said that ice was off an iceberg. 20,000 years old. And the oxygen in it was 20,000 years old. We put it in our beer and it fizzed! But how did he know there was icebergs here back then? How did he know there was oxygen? 20,000 years ago? Jack!! [Reaches out for JACK blindly.]
JACK. Hey, hey babe. (14)

Jenny panics at her incapacity before a history and knowledge which Jack seems to have access to and that she does not. The play takes us on a retrospective tour and demonstrates how Jenny was created as a subject inside Jack's narrative, paralleling this story with Jack's building of their house. Jenny does not want to build a house, and her attempts at intervening in the process of construction of both house and narrative are simply not heard by Jack:

JENNY. What about a basement?
JACK. You want a basement?
JENNY. It's too wet for a basement.
JACK. You want a basement you'll get a basement.
JENNY. Don't all houses have basements?
JACK. If that's what you want, you'll have one. All you gotta do is just say what you want.
JENNY. I wanna stay on Queen.
JACK. You just gotta say the word. Basement. (12-13)

Questions are quelled, and Jenny's desire—to stay downtown—is bowled over in the predetermined building of a particular kind of house and a particular kind of story.

Jenny's desire for provisionality, as renting rather than owning, as downtown rather than in the suburbs, extends to place as well as narrative and she makes attempts to exert control over the kinds of spaces she inhabits. She tries to find public spaces to help fulfill her needs. She describes how she finds a job at Canadian Tire, how she obsessively shoplifts sponges at Shopper's Drug Mart. She also attempts to assert control by turning to her own body. She privately binges and purges. These attempts provide her with a way of engaging in a different identity and afford Jenny temporary agency and independence. Jack describes how he went to watch her once at work: "It was like watchin a stranger or somethin" (17). But these serialized actions (they do not have a linear, cause and effect sequencing) do not subvert Jack's narrative, or stop the building of the house. In this way, Hollingsworth demonstrates the ongoing presence of multiple narratives contained within a dominant narrative. Nonetheless, Jenny is still presented as largely confined within his story, and to the house that Jack builds. Sexuality, for example, is contained in the narrative.When Jenny starts sleeping alone on the futon in the guest room, with a poster of Meryl Streep on the wall, Jack intervenes, readjusting space and, therefore, story:

JACK. ...I took it down and hung it in our room. If she wanted to sleep with Meryl Streep that was okay with me, but I didn't see why I should be left out of the action, right? (20)

All Jenny can do is stare straight ahead and say ambiguously, "I love you" (20). The dynamic of the couple, as constructed through Jack's narrative, is restricted to a heterosexual paradigm.

Finally Jenny finds more substantial means of resistance within the very narrative (and house) that Jack creates: although the terrain where the house is built has been cleared of its original species, a certain species comes back. Jenny hears a "noise" early in the play, which Jack identifies as "friggin frogs" (12). In the course of the play, just as the house is a metaphor for Jack's story, the frogs function, for Jenny, as a means of resistance to that story, an alternative story which is linked to ecofeminism. Jack clears away the frogs when he starts to build the house, but a group of women have started a campaign to save endangered species threatened by the subdivision. It is significant that Jenny finds a new language when she joins the campaign. Her resistance to the narrative is obvious now. She can even refuse the narrative trajectory of the sentence: "A frog.Does not.Drink up.The pond. In which he lives" (20). She takes up the battle cry of the campaign; her remarks contrast with Jack's lines:

JACK. ...It was something to do with frogs.
JENNY. Save the frogs!
JACK. She got real excited.
JENNY. Save the frogs!
JACK. The frogs didn't come back that first spring.
JENNY. [Yells, full voice.] Save the frogs! (20)

Jenny's feminist consciousness is raised. A new language and resistance are found in a community of women who are campaigning for the frogs. The women begin to change Jack's story; they invade the house, suggesting a deterritorializing of the space that Jack commands."Then I'd come home and there'd be all these women in rubber boots in our kitchen," Jack says, and later, "I'd come home and there'd be all these women leavin coffee rings on my oak finish" (20-21). "Oh Jack!" says Jenny now able to dismiss him, as she is endowed with a new knowledge and power (20-21). The influence of the women is felt on Jack's narrative. Jenny doesn't even laugh at his jokes anymore (21). In these ways, Hollingsworth uses the intersection of space and narrative to demonstrate a resistance to patriarchal structures.

Although the frogs give Jenny a new voice, she is not quite ready for the repercussions of her new engagement and narrative choices. Although the frogs first appear to be a means of resisting Jack's house, Jack's story, and Jack's power, ultimately they are recuperated for Jack's purposes. When the frogs do come back, they gradually bring about chaos. Jack again controls the diegesis. He describes their return: "Just a few of them at first. Cute little green ones" (22). Then they move into the kitchen, and then into the living room.When Jenny returns from a visit to Kapuskasing, Jack narrates the frogs' invasion while Jenny appears to us in the time of the story. Jack provokes Jenny's response by the construction of his story:

JACK. I told her they were in all the cupboards, in the sink ... when you sat on the toilet...
JENNY. Where? Where?
JACK. I told her they were in the bedroom. They were jumpin and crawlin all over Meryl Streep's face. They were in the friggin bed. [Jumps to his feet.] The whole friggin house is overrun! The whole street! [Jenny screams.] Like a slimey green rug, heavin under your feet—and when you walk on it you feel it squelch ... you feel it under your feet, and then you're up to your knees in it and then it's up to your chin. They're on your shoulders, in your ears ... they're takin over! It's frogs.Your friggin frogs!
JENNY. Do somethi-i-i-i-ng! I hate them! Kill them! Kill them! Kill them! Kill them! Kill them! K-i-i-i-i-i-ill! (22)

Through Jack's narration, the frogs take over, overwhelming even the body. Jenny's outburst signals a return to Jack's narrative, to his control of the irrational and the excessive.When the lights come up after the frog story, the imagined house and the pregnancy mentioned at the beginning of the story have been realized. Jenny is very pregnant and now silent while Jack narrates the present circumstances:

JACK. I decided against a lawn. I put down gravel and cedar chips. The weeds go through so I kept a bunch of weedkiller in the garage. It's not hard to control them if you get the right stuff. (23)

The frogs, like the weeds, although potentially disruptive, are for the moment safely under control as Jack brings the story to completion with the ending he desires.

The House That Jack Built seems to enact the geopathology of modernism, suggesting only "a victimage of location and a heroism of departure" (Chaudhuri xii) as options for Jenny. The unborn child is an articulation of both entrapment and potential, another idea which Chaudhuri charts through modern drama in the trope of the buried child (18).The situation for Jenny seems dire and the narrative appears to prevent any way out other than the departure she refuses. Nonetheless, there are formal devices which hint at alternatives. Slides, for example, offer another narrative voice in the play, linking Jenny's struggle again to nature. The slides interrupt Jack's narrative. They begin with an aerial shot of a forest, then the trees gradually diminish. A single slide deviates, showing a placard saying "Save the Frogs," the phrase which becomes Jenny's battle cry (20). After Jenny's outburst in which she asks Jack to kill the frogs, there is a blackout. The final slide, showing the rings of a cross-section of a tree, lingers and then disappears, leaving the screen blank, until finally it is also dark (22-23).Rather than operating as an alienating effect, however, the slides support the link between Jenny's plight and the plight of nature, suggesting, perhaps, the larger spaces which are also in crisis in a world determined by the kind of narrative Jack commands.

Instead, the narrative structures and the spaces and identities that accompany them are explicitly foregrounded. The audience is directly addressed, for example; key moments are played out to demonstrate certain points, as in Jack's control of the story of the frogs. Jenny's choice to become a subject like Jack and "kill" the frogs seals her fate, but this choice is rendered inevitable only within this particular story. Unlike naturalism, in which the environment points to an inevitability of outcome as fate, here foregrounded theatricality affords possibilities for change, if not their realization on stage.Naturalism has a different model of exchange, as Chaudhuri points out:

The naturalist stage adumbrates a specific relationship between the performance and the spectator, connecting them to each other with an ambitious new contract of total visibility, total knowledge. The promise of the wellstocked stage of naturalism is a promise of omniscience, indeed of a transfer of omniscience from dramatist to spectator. (29)

There is no assumption of "total visibility" in The House that Jack Built. On the contrary, what is shown is limited and precise. Hollingsworth suggests two white rockers and a screen for slide projections, with a few props under each chair, such as Jenny's knitting bag, and Jack's beer (10). The theatricality of the props is highlighted; they are not part of a naturalized environment which would point to an inevitability of outcome and behaviour. Jenny, for example, pulls out from under her chair an array of sponges that she shoplifted from Shoppers Drug Mart. She rips the plastic off with her teeth. "This was alive once," she says (19). The props become a method of demonstration. Although the play certainly demonstrates the problem of place, and links it to narrative, it also allows that the outcome is not inevitable. Visions of heterotopia, and the possibilities for subjectivity which it affords, are realized more fully in It's Only Hot For Two Months In Kapuskasing.

Whereas Jack dominated the narrative and directly addressed the audience in The House That Jack Built, in It's Only Hot for Two Months in Kapuskasing the narrative is framed differently. The beginning and end of the play consist of the Visitor's interrogation and testimony. The play opens with the Visitor in a tight spot of light, being cross-examined, alluding to a call she received to come over to Gerry's house, and setting up the story which is then enacted:

VISITOR. [In a tight spot. She is being cross-examined.] She shouldn't've woke me up.My God, I didn't even have time to dress properly. It was her voice. It sounded so weird ... I called a cab ... I didn't know the address—I don't know the East End—I mean I got no reason to go there have I? [Glances across at the kitchen] (27)

The reasons why the woman is being cross-examined are not made clear. She explains her decision to come by saying "It was her voice"—nothing more logical than that.The lights come up on the characters; the story begins, taking us back in time. Some events are recounted, not in a linear fashion as in The House that Jack Built, but in a piecemeal manner. We find out that the women knew each other in Kapuskasing; they are now in Vancouver. They met in an art gallery and in a welfare line, but any substantial relationship between the two is not forthcoming. Events in the present are equally ambiguous. In the course of the play the women talk, have coffee, eat trifle, dance, smoke, and cry. Gerry and the Man embrace; the Visitor gives the boy some money and jumps out the window. The logic behind the events and the reasons why the Visitor was called are unclear. The action is not linear—it is internal and circular. Most of the play is a dialogue between the two women, accentuated from time to time with moments of inner voice. Significantly, the Man's inner voice is never heard and he seldom speaks. Instead, the play is clearly in the purview of the women. The play closes with the Visitor testifying: she speaks of events which presumably happened after she left the house. Neither the "crime," however, nor the accused, are revealed.

Whereas the house that Jack builds in the first play is equated with his dominant narrative, here the provisional space of the play is associated with provisional narratives. Immediately the connections between space and narrative become apparent. The name of the main character, the Visitor, indicates her tenuous relationship to the space. The Visitor is clearly not at home in this space and it is her journey that we follow. She "doesn't know the address," (27) and yet she is here, in this eclectic apartment, where a two burner electric stove is on top of a crippled gas stove, where there is a fridge with a pigeon painted on it, where there is a mobile consisting of Ronald Reagan cut-outs. The bedroom has several cardboard boxes, as though the occupants themselves have not quite unpacked and are somehow in transition (26). The Visitor is clearly uncomfortable in this space and tries to get her bearings. She asks, "What's in the boxes?" (29) and "Who's that?" (30) about the Ronald Reagan mobile and "What's that?" (30) about the pigeon on the fridge.At the end of the play, the Visitor stumbles into the bedroom and then "escapes" out a window.

In the absence of a totalizing narrative, however, the two women are capable of negotiating new subjectivities. Again "the couple" is the focus of Hollingsworth's attention. Here, however, the couple is not framed solely within heterosexual desire. As Siebers suggests, "sexual politics defines the couple as the site of difference, but the concept of the couple will not be wholly inclusive until we are able to accept the non-difference of same-sex partners within its definition" (10). The Visitor voices her desire in her inner voice: "She's not as pretty any more. Still has those Mick Jagger lips though. Cracks. Little sexy cracks" (28). And Gerry, in her turn, makes a move to seduce the Visitor. She wants to dance the tango; "Think of yourself as Tina Turner," she encourages (39). She makes an overture that the Visitor has only mused about: "Hey, I haven't danced with a woman since I was in high school" (40).But the possibilities don't end there.The Visitor is also attracted to the Man. They make eye contact, which Gerry has to break. At the end of the play, Gerry and the Man throw cherries at each other; they smash and smear the trifle which has been served, until the situation becomes erotic, and the Visitor is implicated in the triangle:

[...] They hurl the trifle against the wall, grab handsfull of the stuff, throw it, and smear it. GERRY squashes cherries on the floor. MAN laughs. VISITOR cowers. MAN stands behind GERRY, puts his arms around her waist, nuzzles her neck, and bites her ear. GERRY licks the spoon.] MAN. [Speaking into GERRY's neck; looking at VISITOR.] So, are you gonna let me squash your cherry?
GERRY. [Turning on VISITOR] You gonna stare at us all night you little whore? (44-45)

The Visitor stumbles backwards into the bedroom, where the Boy is watching TV. Feeling sorry for him, she drops some money into his lap.His one line packs a punch: "I come free," he responds (45).

The freedom from a cause and effect narrative allows for more possibilities in identities. In particular, the Man and Gerry seem to move freely in their relationship between aggression and affection. All the Visitor's relationships are in flux by the end of the play. In her final testimony, the Visitor describes how she telephones her daughter Charlene for help, and the Visitor's boyfriend Manfred answers:

VISITOR. . . . Oh, I said, Oh, I musta dialled the wrong number. But I knew I didn't. She's only eighteen! And then I said—you know what I just did? I just left my bobby pins on some guy's bedside table.And he said stay there, I'll be right over. I'll take a cab. And I said, yeah, that's what you better do. I'll be waiting—I'll be right here—and I could tell, there was something in my voice—there was something in my voice Your Honour. (45)

Here the Visitor's identity is put into question as more relationships are unsettled. Why is her daughter with her boyfriend? Identities as friend, mother, and lover (and possibly rival) are now confused. Furthermore, the end of the story echoes the opening, with a slight substitution of positions.Now the Visitor has "something" in her voice, like Gerry did at the beginning (27). In The House that Jack Built, the story syntagm is completely contained, as Jenny's adherence to Jack's narrative is clearly indicated by the final scene in which Jenny sits, passive and pregnant. In It's Only Hot for Two Months in Kapuskasing, there is no resolution. Subjectivities are shifted, not affirmed. The Visitor takes up Gerry's position by making a call for help; Manfred presumably takes up the Visitor's position by responding to the urgency in her voice and taking a cab. The ending puts into question the "truth" we've been hearing, the "enigma"we've been trying to resolve, the subjects we've been attempting to create.Nothing is certain.

Coherence in identity is constantly undermined in other ways as well. The names of the Man and the Boy are not stated.Gerry is sometimes referred to as Harriet. The best indication of displacement of identity is the name of the main character: she is known simply as "the Visitor." The stage directions indicate that she is "preferably Métis, but don't push this" (26). Later in the play, Gerry says, ambiguously, "That's how I always thought of you. White" (41).

Where a coherent narrative controlled by Jack in The House that Jack Built results in the constriction of Jenny, in It's Only Hot for Two Months in Kapuskasing many narratives proliferate. Space seems inhospitable and identities too several. But again, Hollingsworth is not operating within a naturalistic aesthetic. Encounters are stylized and become almost parodied enactments of relationships.We can see roles being enacted, and the identities of the characters become the effects of those roles. For example, Gerry at one point "switches off her weeping" (44) to respond to the Man's accusation. Gerry and the Man "embrace shamelessly," seemingly because the Visitor is watching (45). The only reason the Visitor can find to explain the odd behaviour she encounters is itself a cliché: "It's because they're artists" (45). This attention to performativity is important because identity is shown to be temporary and constructed. A coherent, truth-speaking, essentialized subject is not to be found.

The same kind of characteristics can be applied to the narrative itself. The interrogation and testimony can act as parodic references to the detective story genre. The classic pursuit of the secret is initiated, but ultimately is denied. In this play, the spectator is sent along the same path as the Visitor: he/she must put the pieces together as best possible, but is always aware of the multiplicity of stories because of the device of the inner voice. Similarly, in terms of the larger structure of the play as a whole, while narrative desire is evoked, it is ultimately denied as the story has no completion: no answers are given for crimes committed or charges laid, let alone events that happened. The lack of continuity is characteristic of postmodern dramaturgy:

The hidden secret of much modern and pre-modern dramaturgy produced a strong and satisfying dramatic closure based on catharsis, or at least on the achievement of balance. The new dramaturgy displaces the secret enough to show us why its revelation cannot be appropriated for the purposes of thematic resolution. (Chaudhuri 117)

Instead of revealing and resolving, the play decodes narrative games, demanding the active engagement of the spectator.

Stories proliferate and truths are multiple. Sense must be made through piecing stories together and accepting contradic- tions rather than sorting through clearly demarcated truth and fiction. The Visitor, herself, does not know what to make of Gerry and recalls what she's heard: "That story they used to tell back in Kap—she once cut herself up—there was so many stories about her—" (29). And later, "Now that I knew her I started to listen to the gossip about her [...] Everyone had a different story—" (35). We can also see how Gerry herself can manipulate narrative and character. The Man's first line comes at the mid-point of the play, and arises because of Gerry's provocation:

GERRY. He writes poetry. Read her one of your poems. [MAN doesn't move.] They're not bad when you consider he hardly speaks English.
MAN. That's a lie.
GERRY. You see, that got him. (36)

Gerry's objective is to provoke a response, not to attain the truth. Identity is shown to be the product of so many moves among language games and, therefore, necessarily temporary, contingent, and malleable.

The experience of place is equally flexible. In The House that Jack Built, Jenny is represented as firmly embedded in Jack's narrative, making only a few attempts to imaginatively escape this home and space, but never moving very far away from the rocker that defines her relationship with Jack. In It's Only Hot for Two Months in Kapuskasing, not only is the space clearly temporary, but the characters talk about leaving, about going back to Kap (37); the Visitor begins to imagine herself gone missing (41). The Visitor's position at the opening and closing of the play is also significant. She is alone, in a tight, isolated spot (27, 45). This isolation implies a modernist containment of self; the situation demands that she tell the "truth" in her interrogation and testimony, although elsewhere that truth is shown to be elusive.We see the Visitor negotiate between the two places she takes up in the play: the controlled, isolated space of the spot and the strange, disconcerting home of Gerry and her family. As order and chaos, presence and absence vie, the play offers no absolute answer.As Chaudhuri describes it, heterotopia challenges dualistic, oppositional premises and offers instead, "a vision of place as combining the local and the global, habitation and deviation, roots and routes" (259).

The "victimage of location" and the "heroism of departure" are evoked in The House That Jack Built and It's Only Hot for Two Months in Kapuskasing. As Chaudhuri describes them, they are the central paradox of the geopathology of modernism:"the desire for a stable container for identity and the desire to deterritorialize the self" (8). Jenny is clearly confronted with these options in The House that Jack Built. Other choices are made available to her in the course of the play, but necessitate a different imagining of narrative and of subjectivity. At the end of the play, convinced by Jack's narration of the invasion of the frogs, she opts for control and exclusion of difference. The extermination of the frogs seals the house and Jenny's position as accommodated to Jack's narrative. Because of the anti-naturalistic staging of the play, the connection between narrative and subjectivity is made explicit and suggests, if not offers, alternatives to the victimage of location and the heroism of departure. It's Only Hot for Two Months in Kapuskasing is less a completion of The House That Jack Built than a response to it. Here multiple narratives allow for multiple subjectivities and configurations of romantic relationships. Utopic they are not. By explicitly assembling and disassembling narrative structures in these two plays, Hollingsworth frustrates the desire for omniscience and, perhaps, happy endings on the part of the spectator, opting instead for a staging of psychic experience which engages with difference. This is what heterotopia must really entail—an ease with otherness. "Roots and routes" are not opposed but are held in a place of tension. The pleasure of these two plays comes not from a cathartic resolution or stability in representations, but from the playfulness and problem-solving that result from entertaining multiple identities and stories.



1Hollingsworth also suggests that this is a metaphor for Canada's relationship with Great Britain. See Hollingsworth's remarks in The Work (98).
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2 The title of the play is an obvious reference to the nursery rhyme "This is The House That Jack Built." This further indicates how Hollingsworth is attempting to subvert deeply engrained stories or myths that we live by.
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