At the Panasonic Theatre, Toronto, Ont.

Written by Kevin Elyot
Directed by Joel Greenberg
Set and costumes by John Thompson
Lighting by Kimberly Purtell
Sound by Garth Helm
Cast: Tim Funnell
Alex Furber
Martin Happer
Jeff Miller
Gray Powell
Jonathan Wilson

My Night With Reg is a delicate yet chilling play about the early days of the AIDS epidemic but is timeless because of its handling of male relationships. The production is stylish, beautifully acted and moving.

The Story. London, mid-1980s. Guy is having a flat-warming party (apartment-warming party to North Americans) to celebrate his new digs. He’s invited several old and new men friends. He met the older friends in school and has kept in touch intermittently. John is one old friend and Guy has secretly loved him all those years but didn’t dare tell him.

Guy is single, shy, accommodating to his friends and is the one person they all confide in. John is dashing, charming, rich and very popular. But not as popular as Reg seems to be. All the men in the play are gay and they all have Reg in common.

Over the course of the play there are at least two funerals. Lurking in the background is the spectre of AIDS, which is never mentioned. Because we come with the benefit of hindsight to My Night With Reg we know that the men who died, died of AIDS. Guy often expresses how well he takes care to protect himself. We know from what.

The Production. Everything about John Thompson’s set for Guy’s flat is tasteful, in muted colours. The sofa has two cushions arranged just so. The artwork is conservative and not raunchy. The bar is well stocked because Guy is having a party for friends he hasn’t seen in years. The terrace is being painted by a young fellah named Eric who wanders into and out of the action.

This is a play that can’t be rushed in its production. It is funny, perceptive, subtle and moving. It needs time to reveal the characters, their idiosyncrasies, their relationships to each other and their abundance of secrets.

Joel Greenberg’s direction is full of care and thought. No character is a stereotypical gay man. They are all true to themselves. There is confident affection as friends kiss hello and goodbye. Body language is expansive and joyous in many cases. The acting is superb. Jonathan Wilson creates Guy as a man of shy awkwardness, he is tentative in expressing how he feels, but pulls back when he senses he might embarrass himself. Wilson is a mass of ticks, smiles, shrugs and all consuming sweetness. Guy is the one character we root for from the get go because he’s such a mensch. One realizes how much Jonathan Wilson been missed on a Toronto stage because of this gracious performance.

Gray Powell as John is that dashing, confident man who could appeal to men and women. He has that devil may care attitude. He’s got money. He doesn’t worry about anything except hiding little details of his life from his friends and he handles that with an off-handed aplomb. And yet, you sense a deep sense of regret that he’s attracted to whom he’s attracted. They are all friends there and John really doesn’t want to hurt anybody. It’s just that he can’t help it. It’s a lovely performance of a man who is conflicted.

Jeff Miller plays Daniel with a hint of flamboyance that is more about a man who is confident to be himself, in the company of his friends, rather than a man showing off. Daniel is joyous in his relationship but full of angst that perhaps his lover is cheating, or that a friend of his is cheating with his lover. Daniel experiences a roller-coaster of emotions, and Jeff Miller is such a good actor, he makes the audience feel every plunge and swoop. The whole cast is superb.

Comment. While playwright Kevin Elyot was a prolific playwright and screenwriter, his 1994 breakout award-winning hit play was My Night With Reg. He writes about gay relationships and promiscuity in the age of AIDS. He is never judgemental. His writing is very funny, moving and almost poetic. At one of the funerals the lover of the recently departed says, “The smallest thing will make me miss him.” A feather of a line that pierces the heart.

My Night With Reg starts out to be a play about six friends in the early time of AIDS in London in the mid-1980s. But it develops into a play about relationships and the secrets, lies and hurts that develop when characters hide things from each other. That aspect of the play, the love these men have or had for each, other makes My Night With Reg timeless.

David Mirvish presents a Studio 180 production.

Opened: Feb. 14, 2017.
Closes: Feb. 26, 2017.
Cast: 6 men.
Running Time: 100 minutes, no intermission.


At the Panasonic Theatre, Toronto, Ont.

Written by Kevin Elyot
Directed by Joel Greenberg
Set and costumes by John Thompson
Lighting by Kimberly Purtell
Sound by Garth Helm
Cast: Tim Funnell
Alex Furber
Martin Happer
Jeff Miller
Gray Powell
Jonathan Wilson

My Night With Reg is a delicate yet chilling play about the early days of the AIDS epidemic but is timeless because of its handling of male relationships. The production is stylish, beautifully acted, and moving.

London, mid-1980s. The play is about a group of gay friends who are invited to celebrate the new flat of Guy. He is shy, single, accommodating and the one person these friends confide in. Guy has secretly loved John since their school days. John never noticed. He was too busy being dashing and popular. But not as popular as Reg seems to be. All the men in the play have Reg in common. Lurking in the background is the spectre of AIDS, which is never mentioned, but we come to it with the benefit of hindsight.

The play is funny, perceptive, subtle and so moving. It is directed with care by Joel Greenberg. The acting is superb.

Full review shortly.

David Mirvish presents a Studio 180 production.

Opened: Feb. 14, 2017.
Closes: Feb. 26, 2017.
Cast: 6 men.
Running Time: 100 minutes, no intermission.


Harper Regan

At the Bluma Appel Theatre, Toronto, Ont.

Written by Simon Stephens
Directed by Matthew Jocelyn
Set and Costumes by Debra Hanson
Lighting by Michael Walton
Sounds by Thomas Ryder Payne.
Starring: Vivien Endecott-Douglas
Lynne Griffin
Hardee T. Lineham
Molly Parker
Alex Poch-Goldin
Philip Riccio
Izaak Smith

A challenging play about a woman trying to get her bearings in the face of personal upheavals.

The Story. Things are not going well for Harper Regan. Her father is deathly sick in another city and her boss will not give her two days off to see him. She hasn’t seen her father in two years. She hasn’t spoken to her mother in as many years. There was a rift in the family and the folks are not talking to her.

Harper’s husband, Seth, can’t work. He has been shunned by the townsfolk because it’s believed that he is a pedophile. He was caught taking pictures in a park of young girls. He says it was innocent. Harper believes him. Her parents do not, hence the rift. Harper’s husband and daughter, Sarah, don’t want Harper to go and see her dying father. She ignores everybody and goes. She arrives in her parents city that night but does not rush to the hospital. She waits to see him until the next morning when it’s too late. He died the night before, alone.

This sets off a series of events for Harper totally at odds with the kind of person she is. She changes her clothes sense; acts recklessly; confronts her mother and shifts her opinions and returns home ready to deal with what faces her, one assumes.

The Production. This is an odd production. While the press information describes the play as intimate dealing with intimate relationships, Director Matthew Jocelyn and designer Debra Hanson have set this ‘intimate’ play on the full stage which looks the size of an airplane hanger. Hardly intimate.

There are theatre seats at the very back wall of the stage. When actors are not in a scene, they sit at the back watching. Why is a mystery. The point of the play is that each of these characters seems to be isolated and alone in their own worlds. No one is watching, hence their isolation.

The set is on two levels. One level is on the stage, down towards the audience. There is another level reached by a few stairs upstage centre. Stage right is ramp with a considerable rake that also joins the two levels. The only point of that ramp seems to be to expedite the movement of large furniture as characters bring down a table, chairs and other props.

In the first scene, Harper is asking her boss, Elwood Barnes, for some days off to visit her dying father. Molly Parker as Harper is creased with worry, anxiety and frustration as her Elwood Barnes says no. As Elwood, Hardee T. Lineham is curt, matter of fact and totally uninterested in sympathy.

Molly Parker stands on the ramp wearing heels, playing the scene for about 20 minutes. All I can think about is how standing there on that rake in those heels must cause Parker shooting pains up her legs. What an odd placement of a scene. And more odd still is that Parker is stage right on the ramp and Barnes is over there, stage left, sitting in a chair. Again, hardly intimate. Is this placement to accentuate the emotional distance between characters? Surly realizing the play would have done that, without a symbolic huge stage to play it on.

Each scene begins with an ear-splitting explosion of cacophonous heavy metal music. Perhaps this is representative of the jumbled noise in Harper and her family’s lives. Gradually the noise of the music softens until at the end, when Harper has confronted her family and their difficulties head on, the music is lilting and classical, easy to listen to, almost comforting.

Whether Vivien Endicott-Douglas is playing Sarah Regan, Harper’s angry daughter, or she is playing Justine Ross, an overly bubbly nurse at the hospital where Harper’s father died, Endicotte-Douglas is hampered by a lack of variation in both roles. I wish she was urged to temper and vary both parts.

For some reason Alex Poch-Goldin plays both Seth Regan, Harper’s downtrodden husband, and James Fortune, a kindly, casual dalliance Harper has on her way to transformation. Except for an addition of a tie and perhaps a change in clothes, this similar look of the actor in both roles is jarring. I wonder why that choice is made?

Philip Riccio plays Mickey Nestor, another character on Harper’s journey. He is an embittered, racist, hard-drinker with a twitchy leg and a sneer. A vivid performance and it elicits a startling reaction in Harper.

We see in Lynne Griffin’s performance as Harper’s mother, a kindly woman ready to reach out to her daughter to explain things and why she and Harper’s father felt the way they did about Harper’s husband.

And finally Izaak Smith as Tobias, a young student Harper chats up, is all gangly awkwardness, fists jammed into his pockets. He is both wary and intrigued by this woman who it turns out is following him.

Aside from interesting performances for the most part, this is an odd production of an intriguing play.

Comment. Simon Stephens is a celebrated British playwright and rightly so. His plays are vivid, deal deeply with the human psyche, psychology, family dealings and misfits. He writes plays of substance and Harper Regan is certainly that. A woman who has not seen her father in two years is compelling to hazard everything by leaving her job and her family to see him before he dies and make amends. Yet she deliberately waits to see him until it’s too late. Why is that? She goes on a wild journey of change and discovery behaving in a manner so unlike her. Why? She comes home and faces illusions she had about her family and husband. And in a way she finds a kind of peace. I just wish the production was better at bringing out the richness of the play and that director Matthew Jocelyn focused more on the details of the play than on the odd environment of it.

Produced by Canadian Stage

Opened: March 5, 2015
Closes: March 22, 2015
Cast: 7; 4 men, 3 women
Running Time: 2 hours 30 minutes.


The following two reviews were broadcast on Friday, Dec. 26, 2014 CIUT FRIDAY MORNING, 89.5 fm. Into the Woods at selected movie theatres. A Midsummer Night’s Dream from Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, plus a mention of other Shakespeare productions from the Stratford Festival and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London, Eng. That will play at selected cinemas over the next few months.

Good Boxing Day to you. Ordinarily I would say it’s theatre fix time with Lynn Slotkin, our theatre critic and passionate playgoer. But Lynn tells me she’s reviewing films today with a theatrical background. Hi Lynn. Explain.

Hi Phil. I’m reviewing the film of Into the Woods which opened at selected cinemas yesterday.

And I’m also talking about a filmed performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream that played at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London.

Most important I have to say that Daniel Garber, our regular film critic, gave me permission to review Into the Woods and I just heard about the film of A Midsummer Night’s Dream this week. I don’t think Daniel would mind.

In both cases the films are based on plays that opened in theatres. In both cases the woods factor heavily, but there is a twist.

Ok we can wait for the twist. Let’s start with Into the Woods. What’s the story?

In the case of Into the Woods, this is the Stephen Sondheim/James Lapine musical that opened on Broadway in 1987. Stephen Sondheim wrote the music and lyrics and James Lapine wrote the book (and also directed the musical for the theatre.

For our purposes for the film, Sondheim and Lapine repeated their writing duties. The film is directed by Rob Marshall.

The story melds several fairy tales: Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Rapunzel and Jack and the Beanstalk. At the centre of them all is a childless Baker and his Wife. They are desperate to have a child but can’t because the Witch next door put a curse on their house.

It seems that when the Baker was a baby his mother was pregnant again and had a craving for greens. So the Baker’s father stole greens from the Witch’s garden, including some magic beans. To call it square the Witch wanted the soon to be born baby to be turned over to her.

One thing lead to another….she took the baby and put a curse of barrenness on the future line of the Baker and his Wife. But there is a way to reverse the curse.

The Baker has to bring the Witch a cow as white as milk, a cape as red as blood, hair as yellow as corn and a slipper as pure as gold. That’s how all the other fairy tales meld together and it all happens in the woods.

Is it a ghost story or something else.

Being a Stephen Sondheim musical, it’s definitely something else. Sondheim delves into the wounded heart.

He knows about desperation and how to express it in a lyric. His facility with language is astonishing. Everybody in the stories is wishing for something better, something else. The Baker and his Wife wish for a child. Jack wishes his aged cow would give milk. Cinderella wishes to go to the Festival (at this point she’s not even thinking about the Prince). They all realize to be careful what they wish for. Then their wishes change. They don’t want to be alone. Even the Witch wants the child she stole—named Rapunzel—to remain with her and not to leave her alone.

The Baker, who wants to solve the Witch’s riddle on his own, realizes that it’s better to include his Wife in the process. And there’s an irate Giant who terrorizes the nearby village.

They all learn about decency, forgiveness, working together, some change for the better, some don’t.

Has this been a smooth transition from the stage to the screen?

Not entirely smooth. A set of the woods was created full of forbidding trees, darkness. The cast is star-studded and exemplary. Meryl Streep plays the Witch with all the flash and dazzle you would expect of that gifted actress. She’s bitter, angry, heartbreaking and sings like a dream. Kudos to the make-up people.

James Corden plays the Baker and his journey is the most profound. He learns how to take charge, be a leader, make hard decisions, and learn that he will not be like his father who deserted him when he needed him. Emily blunt plays the Baker’s Wife and there’s a loving delicacy about her. The Wolf is played by a wily, creepy Johnny Depp. So the acting talent is there.

The problem is director Rob Marshall. In spite of a background in musical theatre, as a film director he can’t get out of the way and let the material speak for itself. He’s so busy moving the camera all over the scene, circling an actor who is singing Sondheim’s difficult lyrics, that it’s all you can do to focus on the person singing.

Aside from the movie stars in the film, there is a host of celebrated British actors in it as well, but you would hardly know it because Marshall has deliberately shot them in gloomy light so you can’t make out their faces.

The Giant is played by a formidable Frances de la Tour, but again Marshall teases us with hints of her face. I found myself sitting forward to try and find the face in the tangle of branches obstructing it. Is Marshall being coy? Don’t show the face at all, if you want to be coy.

We see the Baker’s father in shadow the first time. Then you see his face later in the film in close-up to see that it’s Simon Russell Beale, considered one of the best actors in England. That seems like deliberately sloppy direction for the sake of atmosphere?

Let’s move to the film of A Midsummer Night’s Dream You said there was a twist between the two films.

Into the Woods
and A Midsummer Night’s Dream are filmed versions of plays that originally played in a theatre.

With Into the Woods a whole set was built of the woods, and a village to accommodate the filming of the piece so they were going to adapt the stage play for film.

With A Midsummer Night’s Dream cameras were set up in Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, in London last summer and an actual performance was filmed from beginning to end. This is complete with packed audience, including the groundlings, some of whom had their chins resting on their arms which were on the stage as they watched.

The filming of actual performances for broadcasting or showing in a cinema is becoming the norm.

The National Theatre Live series has filmed many of its live productions and broadcast them hours later. The Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre is following suit.

Even our own Stratford Festival has filmed three of its productions from last summer: >King Lear, King John, and Antony and Cleopatra and they will be shown in high definition this winter and spring at the Cineplex at Silver City at Young and Eglinton.

And again the woods factor heavily in the story?

Yes. Hermia is in love with Lysander and he loves her. Her father wants her to marry Demitrius. She doesn’t want to. Her father therefore says that he is seeking the law of the land that allows him to marry off his daughter to whomever he likes, or have her put to death. A bit harsh, that.

Helena loves Demetrius but he won’t look at her. So to escape all this angst, Hermia and Lysander escape to the woods in Athens—and they are followed by Helena and Demetrius. There are also meddling and warring fairies in that woods and they get involved as well. Emotions are high.

Again a kind of frenzy of emotions swirls through those woods and all manner of mistaken identity; shifting identities; sexual innuendo comes into play.

As this is a filming of a stage production, how is that transition?

I think it’s better than most. In a stage play the audience can look anywhere on that stage at any character and glean something about the character or the production as a whole. In film, we look where the director focuses his lens and our attention. In filming a straight production while it’s going on the director has to anticipate where the audience might look. The camera has to be ready to film subtext or subtleties all over the place.

As I said this effort is better than most. It also helps that the production at the Globe is so well done; funny athletic, fall down funny. The stage version is directed by Dominic Dromgoole, the artistic director of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. It’s one of the funniest productions of this I’ve seen and the camera captures that. The acting is very strong for the most part—the biggest exception is Puck who is not impish, devlish, or funny enough.

This production will be joined later for a showing of The Taming of the Shrew January 24 and The Tempest on February 21. Once again Shakespeare comes to the fore, this time in film.

And if you want to see the genius of Stephen Sondheim and a smart theatrical book by James Lapine then check out Into the Woods.

Thanks Lynn. That’s Lynn Slotkin, our theatre critic and passionate playgoer. You can read Lynn’s blog at Twitter @slotkinletter

Into the Woods the film, plays at various cinemas in the city. Check listings for time and location.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream a filmed performance at Shakespeare’s Globe plays at the Bloor Hot Docs cinema tomorrow, December 27.
Again, check listings for time.


July 4, 2013 Matinee

At the Donmar Warehouse, London. Written and directed by Conor McPherson. Designed by Soutra Gilmour. Lighting by Neil Austin. Sound by Gregory Clarke. Starring: Caoilfhionn Dunne, Brian Gleeson, Ciarán Hinds, Michael Mcelhatton, Jim Norton.

 Once again Conor McPherson weaves a tale of down and outers who struggle to get by, often missing, but still struggling. Tommy is a sort of handy-man-scam-artist. He lives in a dump that made me feel more positive about the clutter in my apartment. At least I flush my toilet after all uses and don’t keep my dirty dishes in the loo. And if I get puckish I don’t eat dog biscuits with a slather of jam.

 Tommy’s partner in business is a simple-minded man named Doc. He is not a doctor but the circuitous route from his real name of Brian to Doc is pure McPherson and hilarious. Tommy has brought Aimee home with him because her bully-thug boyfriend smashed her in the face for some reason and her nose was gushing blood. It wasn’t broken but still damaged. Aimee stayed until her thug boyfriend came looking for her, There is a tough old bird named Maurice who owns the house in which Tommy rents a room. Maurice is a stylish man who drinks to forget how much he misses his late wife.

 It’s a play in which the story and dialogue keep you gripped. McPherson writes about people who live in a world of few chances but they keep trying; in which kindness is everywhere; in which a hand is held out; and hope creeps in.



The following review aired on Friday, Oct. 19, 2012 on CIUT FRIDAY MORNING 89.5 FM. MY NAME IS RACHEL CORRIE. At Hart House Theatre until Oct. 20.

The host was Rose Palmieri.

1) Good Friday morning. It’s time for our regular theatre from Lynn Slotkin, our theatre critic and passionate playgoer.

Hi Lynn. What are you reviewing today?

I’m reviewing MY NAME IS RACHEL CORRIE, a challenging play that opened at Hart House Theatre on Wednesday night and will close tomorrow night. So a short run.

2) Today will be a bit different because Lynn will do her review, but we will then be joined by Mahsa Alimardani for a panel discussion about the play.

Ok tell us the details of MY NAME IS RACHEL CORRIE and why it’s so challenging.

MY NAME IS RACHEL CORRIE is about a young American woman who went to Gaza in 2003 as a volunteer to work with Palestinian families, and offer non-violent resistance to the Israeli military that were bulldozing properties in Gaza.

Rachel Corrie was killed by an Israeli bulldozer while she stood in front of it, trying to prevent it from knocking down a Palestinian house. She was 23.

The play is composed of her writings from her journals, diaries and poems that have been compiled by actor Alan Rickman and journalist Katharine Viner. We see her social awakening as a young girl to her political activism, to her going to Gaza to help.

There are also other jottings that fill in other aspects to her, her humour, prejudices, her great need for recognition etc. It’s a one person play so conveying what that person is about is a challenge.

It deals with a volatile subject—the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which is challenging. And it presents a skewered, lopsided picture of what is going on there.

Corrie tells us that the defenceless Palestinians are being victimized by the Israelis. But not once does she ask why? Not once does she wonder why those bulldozers are trying to destroy those houses and there are reasons, but the text doesn’t go there. That leaves a huge hole in the play.

Added to that is that I just think Corrie’s writing is not very good. It’s self-indulgent, naïve, rambling, and often precious. When listening to the play and reading it, it’s obvious that Rachel Corrie wanted her prose to be published. And truth to tell there would be no play if she had lived. Her adoring, grieving parents sent some of her work to the Guardian Newspaper in England to see if they would publish it posthumously. That got the ball rolling for Alan Rickman and Katharine Viner (a journalist at the Guardian) to put the play together out of her writings.

3) How does it do as a production?

I found it maddening.

Director Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu has directed a production so busy in movement, annoying musical underscoring, and cluttering unreadable projections that it was a wonder you could concentrate on the words at all.

Otu has Rachel scurrying all over the sandy set; hauling props hither and yon; digging in the sand to find a notebook she had forgotten, to check on something she wrote; even going into the audience to talk at break-neck, breathless speed, that you are distracted and distanced from the play.

As I quoted Christopher Plummer a few weeks ago, he was referencing directors who load their productions with bells, whistles and dazzle, resulting in all manner of distraction: “If you give the audience too much to look at, they stop listening to the words.” And listening is why we are in the room.

The most poignant, true moment in that play is at the end when we see a film of the 10-year-old Rachel Corrie making a speech at an event about hunger. In it she says simply what she hopes for the future and how we must all work to end world hunger. It’s heartfelt, true, innocent and charming. But Otu upstages even this moment by having Amelia Sargisson, as Rachel, wander around the upper part of the set (still visible in the darkened stage) and even walk across the front of the projection. Totally distracting.

Amelia Sargisson is youthful, buoyant at times and energetic. But too often she plays Rachel as if she is on the verge of tears; distraught.

Rather than drawing the audience into the emotion of the situation—it alienates them. The actress can ‘indicate’ the fraught emotion of a moment but not to go so overboard that the point is lost.

I will chalk this up to two young artists getting their chance with what looks like a powerful play, wanting so badly to do right by the material, and then because of inexperience let much of it overwhelm them. I want to see their work in another context. I look forward to that.

Put for MY NAME IS RACHEL CORRIE, I found the evening maddening and frustrating.

Thanks Lynn. That’s Lynn Slotkin, our theatre critic and passionate playgoer.

You can read Lynn’s blog at

MY NAME IS RACHEL CORRIE plays at Hart House Theatre until Oct. 20.


The following review of MY GRANNY THE GOLDFISH was broadcast on Friday, March 22, 2012; CIUT Friday Morning 89.5 FM. MY GRANNY THE GOLDFISH is at the Factory Theatre Mainspace until April 15.

The Host is Rose Palmieri

1) It’s Friday morning which means that Lynn Slotkin, our theatre critic and Passionate Playgoer is here to tell us what she thinks of what she’s seen in the way of theatre.

Hi Lynn

What kind of week have you had?

Eclectic. It started on Monday with a reading of PROUD by Michael Healey at Theatre Passe Muraille.

You’ll recall that this is the play that the Tarragon Theatre passed on programming because the Artistic Director Richard Rose, thought the Prime Minister might sue them and their funding might be in jeopardy.

Michael Healey had been a writer-in-residence at Tarragon for years—they did his plays regularly. This lack of programming made him leave Tarragon
for good.

Andy McKim, the Artistic Director of Theatre Passe Muraille, jumped at the chance to produce a reading of the play as a fundraiser.

The place was packed and many people were turned away.

I won’t review the play of course except to say it’s a first draft and full of Healey’s wit, humour and political smarts. He’s producing the play himself in the fall. Should be interesting.

On Wednesday night I saw the filmed version of the Stratford Shakespeare Production of TWELFTH NIGHT

I saw the production at Stratford directed by Des McAnuff and as you know and hated it.

2) Then why did you see the film?

Well if I am critical of a director and his productions, then perhaps it will improve with a different director doing the filming.

3) And was it better?

No. Barry Avrich directed the film of the staged production and did no one any favours. No subtlety, no nuance, no revelation and annoying camera work. I don’t want to see this play again for a long time thanks to these guys.

And then last night I saw MY GRANNY THE GOLDFISH at the Factory Theatre Mainstage. Written by Anosh Irani

4) What an intriguing title. What’s the story?

A young man named Nico begins the play by telling us that it all started with a lump. Nico is a hypochondriac, but he developed a lump on his back and he went into the hospital to have it operated on and a biopsy done.

He was originally from Bombay. His parent and grandmother live there. Nico is in Canada taking a course in business. He hasn’t seen his family in two years.

We are lead to believe they are estranged, but hisparents are paying his way and sending him money.

While Nico is in the hospital waiting for the results of the biopsy, his grandmother flies from Bombay to Canada to be with him in the hospital giving him moral support. This is a total surprise to him.

The play shifts back and forth from the hospital room to Bombay where Nico’s parents are waiting for a call from the grandmother to report on Nico’s condition.

Both parents bicker, and drink, all the time. The grandmother travels with a flask full of whiskey. There is a history of alcoholism there. Nico does not drink. He just assumes the worst about his health. So in a way that’s his addiction.

5) Sounds like a story full of potential. How does it do as a play?

MY GRANNY THE GOLDFISH is a dud of a play. Actually the problem is that writer Anosh Irani has not written a play. He’s written a group of underdeveloped characters spouting one liners in sit-com situations. No real characters talk like that.

The grandmother arrives but no truths are told in a credible way. She wanders around telling funny stories that are not connected.

She goes to find the doctor only to report back some ill informed information.

Now really Rose, think about it. Nico is a hypochondriac. He’s just had an operation on a lump. Yet he doesn’t seem to be remotely aware or interested in finding out the results. Not once do we hear him getting that doctor to tell him anything. The Granny does but only as a set up for lame jokes.

And the scenes between the parents are more lame one-liners and improbable conversations after another.

In Act II there are revelations that come from no where substantiated by nothing that has gone before.

Irani’s efforts to be funny are obvious, laboured and fall flat.

Mr. Irani is a successful novelist but MY GRANNY THE GOLDFISH is not his shining hour as a playwright, even though he has written plays before. In a word, dire.

6) Ouch…Lynn does the production help to salvage this?

Alas no. Director Rosemary Dunsmore is a terrific actress and director in her own right, but if the material is as unforgiving as this is there is little one can do. That said, I found her staging rather odd.

The Granny moves around that set for no reason. The Granny sits in a chair giving lines then gets up and stands centre stage giving more lines.

It’s a hospital room yet set designer John Thompson has furniture, such as chairs, so far away from the centre of the action it’s jarring when they sit way over there talking to Nico way over here.

As for the acting…As Nico, Kawa Ada is personable and engaging as the frustrated young man loving to his Granny and at odds with his parents.

As Granny, Yolande Bavan seems ill at ease with the lines, the jokes and the pacing. Lots of hesitation there and it results in a flat performance.

As the parents, Sanjay Talwar as the father and Veena Sood as the mother are saddled with unfunnylines and ridiculous situations.

Ms Sood as the mother wears many many bracelets that clang whenever she raises or moves her arms, which is constant. So every times she speaks it’s with this annoying, distracting noise.

Is the costumes designer Robin Fisher kidding by having her wear this stuff? Get them off her!

At one point in the show the two actors playing the parents have to go from back stage through the front of the theatre and then enter through the audience.

I heard those noisy bracelets as Ms Sood clambered and clanged through the theatre. Mind-numbing in their annoyance.


And when your opening night audience is not laughing, as it wasn’t last night, you have to know, if you are the playwright, you have a problem.

You want to say to Anosh Irani—
Why did you write this play? What do you want us to get from it? What truths? Wisdoms?

Now rewrite it; make it shorter, maybe 90 minutes with no intermission.

Thanks Lynn. That’s Lynn Slotkin our theatre critic and Passionate Playgoer. You can read her blog at

MY GRANNY THE GOLDFISH runs at Factory Theatre until April 15.

Tickets at



by Lynn on November 19, 2021

in The Passionate Playgoer


A binaural audio experience, co-produced by Factory Theatre and Obsidian Theatre. Streaming Nov. 19-28.

Written by Lisa Codrington

Directed by Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu

Foley artist, sound designer and composer, John Gzowski

Starring Alison Sealy-Smith

I first saw Cast Iron, playwright Lisa Codrington’s first play, in 2005. At the time I said: “Lisa Codrington is a new vibrant voice that deserves to be heard… bold and daring.” This binaural audio production is the first revival in 16 years. That’s a pity. The play has a lot to say about aging, loneliness, the traditions and hold that ‘home’ has on a person, how memory haunts us and the demons we try to keep inside.

Libya is being bedeviled. She is in a nursing home in Winnipeg and she can’t sleep because the cold wind outside keeps howling. She’s spent time there, alone, when that night she is visited by a man—is he real? In her imagination? Can she confide in him her secrets that have been haunting her for 40 years when she lived in her native Barbados?

Libya goes back into her memory to dredge up the superstitions and folklore she was taught by her grandmother, a feisty woman who wielded a cast iron pan for protection as well as making her famous Bajan Bakes. Libya coveted that pan. But her grandmother held on to it tightly, as one would a secret recipe.

Libya conjured up the memory of her rivalry with her more popular half-sister, Gracie and how Libya was jealous of Gracie’s success in attracting the attentions of an admired local man. Libya remembers how terrified she was of a woman known to her community as “The Red Woman” and how it was rumoured “The Red Woman” would catch children and kill them in the tall shafts of sugar cane with a butcher’s knife. There was a logical explanation of why she was called “The Red Woman”, but Lidya was held tight by the superstition. One particular terrifying event in Libya’s past bubbles to the surface that evening while she is confiding to the stranger. We see how much anxiety she has been carrying around with her for years.

Playwright Lisa Codrington has created Libya as a woman bursting with life, anger, frustration and haunted memories. She speaks in a Bajan dialect that is both musical and challenging if one is not used to it. Alison Sealy-Smith and her director Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu trust the audience to ‘get it’ and be attentive to its riffs, idiosyncrasies and colourfulness. On her own, Codrington has a keen sense of language. At one point Lidya says to the unseen/unknown force, “Take my hand and let me go.” It’s a line full of poetry and heart-ache. And it’s stunning.

Sealy-Smith is fearless in playing all the characters in the play. She is determined and forthright as Libya; almost crazed as the old woman in the nursing home, and just briming with jealousy and frustration as her younger self in Barbados. She also plays a young, viral man; stodgy older people and many and various personalities.

Because of the nature of the binaural sound—that it surrounds the room—the sense of activity, racing, rushing through foliage if not sugar cane, is beautifully produced in sound by John Gzowski, the foley artist, sound designer and composer. The sounds are vivid and put us right in the world of the play, if not Libya’s imagination.  

My only regret with Lisa Codrington’s work is that we don’t hear/see it enough. More please.

Produced by Factory Theatre and Obsidian Theatre

Plays: Until Nov. 28, 2021.

Running Time: 70 minutes

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Martha Henry

I’ve known Martha Henry for decades, first as a theatre-smitten theatre student standing in the theatre parking lot giving her Tootsie Pops, the talisman of thanks for making the theatre so special for me, then as a friend and my mentor.


Martha Henry never rushed, hurried or raised her voice. She didn’t have to. She commanded attention by being still and quiet. Her voice might sound like a low growl to suggest anger, but never louder than that. She knew the power of making the audience listen to her rather than raising her voice to make them hear her. She was a masterful teacher at that and so much more.

Martha Henry was born in Detroit, Michigan. Early in her career Martha was part of illustrious theatre companies in the U.S: the Arena Stage Company in Washington, D.C. with Jane Alexander and part of the Lincoln Center Theater Company with Blythe Danner. But it was Canada that won Martha’s heart and loyalty. She fell in love with the Stratford Festival when she visited it when she was a stage-struck kid. She said that any country that had a place like Stratford was where she wanted to live.

I was so fortunate to see Martha Henry act and later direct, mostly at the Stratford Festival, but also across the country. I first saw Martha at Stratford in Measure for Measure (1975). She played Isabella. She was thrilling. Isabella was a novice nun. She was asked to compromise her beliefs and her chastity to Angelo a powerful man in charge of governing at the time, in exchange for her brother’s life.  Angelo was smitten with her. She was saved by The Duke but then he, too, wanted her, as his wife. Her life as a novice was over.

The last scene was of Isabella wearing a nun’s head covering and simple glasses, looking stricken over her shoulder to the audience, slowly taking of her glasses and sliding off the head-covering. Devastating. What a perfect beginning to seeing the brilliance of Martha Henry on stage. The director was Robin Phillips.  

That stunning performance was followed in 1977 by her determined, strong performance as Lady Anne in Richard III with Brian Bedford playing Richard III. Again, Robin Phillips directed. There was a scene when the Duke of Gloucester (later King Richard III) propositioned Lady Anne as she followed her husband’s casket for burial. Martha Henry as Lady Anne furiously spat a gob in his face. He smirked and wiped it off with his hand, then licked his hand. The production was full of such power.

Martha Henry and Robin Phillips often worked together and the results were stellar. Phillips’ directed the film of The Wars (1983) by Timothy Findlay. It was a huge achievement in Canadian film starring William Hutt, Martha Henry, Brent Carver and Jackie Burroughs, among other fine actors. Martha Henry played Mrs. Ross, the troubled mother of Robert Ross played by Brent Carver. The scene people always talk about is the one when an equally troubled Robert Ross is in the bath tub, taking a bath. Mrs. Ross is sitting behind him, on the closed toilet seat, quietly smoking. His back is to her. The scene is full of pain, angst, despair and is absolutely heart-breaking—quietly done. And again, devastating.

As much as Martha worked with other directors: often with Antoni Cimolino (her towering Prospero in The Tempest, a forceful Volumnia in Coriolanus and a wickedly impish Lady Bountiful—especially with a large zucchini–in The Beaux’ Stratagem) at Stratford; with Ann Hodges  directing her as a fierce Violet in August: Osage County (2012) at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre in Winnipeg; Stewart Arnott directed her in Marjorie Prime (2020) at the Coal Mine Theatre in Toronto, to name only a few, Martha had a special relationship with director Diana Leblanc.

They had been friends since they both were both acting students at the National Theatre School in Montreal. Diana Leblanc directed Martha Henry in some of the best work I’ve seen anywhere:

Long Day’s Journey Into Night (Stratford, 1994 and 1995) considered by many to be the definitive production of this play. Martha played Mary Tyrone and was astonishing as was William Hutt as James Tyrone. Mary’s lilting voice of enquiry and yet concern of “What are you looking at? Is my hair coming down?” Mary’s voice was also fiercely quiet in how she could manipulate and shoot off a dart of a line of her own. Mary rocked in a rocking chair, sliding her hands back and forth along the arm rests and how the fingers were deliberately entwined to look gnarled like they were crippled with arthritis. The memory leaves me breathless.

Three Tall Women (1996) at the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton in which Martha played “A” for the first time, a warm-up for Stratford, 25 years later. “B” was Fiona Reid and “C” was Jennifer Wigmore.

Wit also at the Citadel playing Vivian Bearing, a university professor fighting cancer.  

Rose (2005) at the Saidye Bronfman Theatre (now the Segal Center) in Montreal. Playing Rose,   a one-woman play of a woman sitting shiva for her grandchild and to a larger extent, the 20th century.

Sweet Bird of Youth (1996) at Stratford. Diana Leblanc directed this steamy, sensuous production of lost chances starred Martha Henry, Geordie Johnson and Bernice—Bernice was the ‘pet-name’ given to the deep-wine-red satin bed covering under which a lot of physical action took place. Bernice was a sensual presence in this production of sex and desire. The chemistry between Martha Henry and Geordie Johnson was undeniable.  

Death of a Salesman (1997) at Stratford. Al Waxman played Willy Loman, Martha Henry played Linda Loman. In the first scene, when Willy came home after a disastrous road trip,  Linda followed him around the set, holding on to the back of his coat like a lost child needing to be lead. It was a heartbreaking performance of a dutiful wife who was not appreciated.

The Cherry Orchard (1998) Stratford. Martha Henry played Lyubov the deluded owner of the Cherry Orchard, who was both frustrating in her not wanting to face reality and endearing because she was so needy in wanting to be liked.

The Glass Menagerie at the Tarragon Theatre in Toronto. Playing Amanda Wingfield, resilient, and determined who loved her children by willing them to try and do better.  

And Three Tall Women at Stratford, 2021. Martha played “A”, Lucy Peacock played “B” and Mamie Zwettler played “C”. More on that later.

Martha Henry illuminated every character she played and every play she directed. Lots has been written to try and capture her artistry. Suffice it to say, there is Martha Henry and then there is everybody else. 


Martha wanted to direct and said that she would start small, by directing a one person play. It was Brief Lives (1980. Stratford) by Patrick Garland about John Aubrey a 17th century chronicler and gossip of the times. It starred Douglas Rain. The set was a rat-pack’s delight, a conglomeration of stuff that would defeat even Marie Kondo. The staging, direction and acting were a terrific. The same rigor that Martha Henry applied to finding the clues to her characters in her acting she applied to finding the clues of the play in her directing.

The Grace of Mary Traverse (1987)at Toronto Free Theatre, in which Martha Henry used the huge space of Astrid Janson’s set to great effect.

Martha Henry went from directing strength to directing strength, heading the Grand Theatre in London, Ont. as Artistic Director from 1988-95. Her casting was always inspired. Martha was incorporating ‘colour-rich, colour-conscious casting before it was de rigueur. She directed David Mamet’s incendiary play Oleanna(1995) about a pompous, but clueless, teacher named John and his dealings with a hapless, but easily manipulated, student named Carol. John was played by Rod Beattie. Carol was played by a young Korean-Canadian actress making her professional debut named Sandra Oh. The casting added another layer of complexity to the play. The results were electrifying.

Blood Relations (1989),Grand Theatre, London, Ont. A fantastic set by Astrid Janson set the stage for the bloody acts of Lizzie Borden—a bloody psychological thriller. Diana Leblanc played Lizzie, Frances Hyland played her actress friend. Martha Henry’s direction illuminated the depths of the play.

Fire (1990-91) Grand Theatre. Martha Henry directed Michael McManus as a character loosely based on hard-rocker, Jerry Lee Lewis, in a wild, daring production.

All My Sons (2016, Stratford).  Martha Henry directed an exquisite production. It was as delicate as a spider web and as fraught with danger. The revelations of how deep the betrayals and deceit go gripped you more and more tightly.

Henry VIII (2019), Stratford. (The last production Martha directed). She created a court of political intrigue and secrecy with Jonathan Goad as Henry VIII. Characters have cloistered conversations with others sharing their mendacious plans; others stand on the ‘balcony’ above the stage and observe private conversations and imagine what is being said; rumour abounds.


Martha shared her wealth of experience, first as the Director of The Birmingham Conservatory for Classical Training, which she headed for several years and then as the Director of The Michael Langham Workshop for Classical Direction. Her mentorship was revered by the next generation of actors and directors. They saved her missives, post-it notes with advice, e-mails full of suggestions and letters full of encouragement.

And I revered her mentorship too. When I was starting my Slotkin Letter of my reviews of theatre I’d seen locally, nationally and internationally, Martha Henry was on the list to receive it, in multi-pages of hard copy. She said it was an invaluable resource. She was talking about the letter in glowing terms to Pat Quigley, then the Director of Education at the Stratford Festival. Pat said she wanted to be on the list. Martha said that was not possible as the list of who received it was so long (about 40 people at the time) “…that Lynn said no one new can come on the list until someone on the list dies.” Pat Quigley then said, “I’ll pay.” What a concept. So Pat Quigley became a paying subscriber. More subscribers followed. When I went digital with the letter I did not charge. But more often than not the morning the letter was on my website I’d receive wise, thoughtful words from Martha Henry who suggested a comma here or correction of a spelling/and or grammar there. Martha often said that ‘editing was my life.” I believed her and was grateful. 

Christmas and Marilyn Monroe

Martha, Diana Leblanc and I have been celebrating Christmas together for about 20 years. For a few years choreographer/director Valerie Moore joined us but for the last several years it was Martha, Diana and me. We alternated who would host and cook.

Martha loved Marilyn Monroe, I did too. I always gave Martha a Marilyn Monroe calendar. She so looked forward to that. She gave me books and a purse with Marilyn Monroe on it. For Martha there were books on the sayings of Marilyn Monroe, a book of photos over the years and other memorabilia. She opened every present carefully and received them with glee.

Martha said that when she was a kid her idea of the perfect time was reading a book while eating a peanut butter and jam sandwich with a glass of milk. And popcorn was involved too. So every Christmas, besides the regular presents, I gave Martha a shoe box inside which was: a raffia box into which would fit a small carton of milk; another raffia box the precise size to hold a wrapped peanut butter and jam sandwich; a package of Orville Redenbacher microwave popcorn, and a book. If she came in from Stratford she reported back when she got home that she ate the sandwich and drank the milk and they were delicious. Always the perfect message. Then when we saw each other the next time, she gave me the empty raffia boxes to be used the following Christmas.


Martha Henry was wonderfully kind and thoughtful. It was intermission of an opening at Stratford years ago. Martha never went out to schmooze. She sat quietly in her seat. Also sitting quietly in her seat down front was a beloved long-time supporter of the Stratford Festival. This woman always went out for intermission but not this time. It was a hard time for her family. The woman and her husband had just lost an adult son to illness. Martha walked down the aisle to the row where the woman was sitting, quietly slipped into the seat beside her and put her arm around her shoulders, I imagine offering words of comfort and condolences. The woman melted into Martha. It was achingly personal and private. I felt like I was intruding seeing this from across the theatre from my seat. But that offer of comfort was pure Martha.

We often went to dinner in Toronto, Stratford or out of town if she was acting out of town. If I invited her for food between/after a show there was always a ‘conflict’ for the bill. Martha always paid the bill. She never accepted a contribution to the bill. She flicked the money away as if it was somebody else’s used Kleenex. And she did it with flair.

The last time we went to dinner was in Stratford, at Foster’s. We (Martha, Diana Leblanc and I) were at Martha’s table—the round one in the window. A waitress (Martha knew her name, I didn’t) quickly brought Martha a glass of her favourite chardonnay with ice. They knew what she liked and how she liked it and gave it to her without asking.

I was determined to pay the bill. After we got settled, on the pretext of going to the bathroom, I quietly went to the waitress at the entrance to the restaurant saying that when it came time for the bill I wanted her to give it to me. She blanched visibly. I have learned about subtext from watching Martha Henry act all these years, I knew what that blanching meant. The waitress said, “She won’t like that (meaning Martha).” I said, “I know. I don’t care. Occasionally people should be able to take Martha Henry to dinner. I know that Martha will make a fuss, but I want the bill.” The waitress said she would do it but she was going to leave the table quickly after that.

When the time came the waitress gave me the bill and quickly left and I just as quickly and quietly got out my wallet.

Martha: “What are you doing?” Martha asked quietly but with that look of horror as if a crime had taken place.

Me: “I’m paying the bill,” I said.

Martha: “No, you’re not,” (“not” was stretched to three syllables)” Martha said it in that musical, elegant voice, with a hint of edge. A look of surprise/disbelief.

Me: “Martha Henry, I am entitled to take you to dinner once every two years and pay the bill (the previous time was two years before. The time before that was never). You always, always take me to dinner and pay and it’s my turn. I’ve got the money and I want to take you to dinner. I think that’s a reasonable request.”  (My heart was thumping).


Martha: “Ok. (pause) (I exhaled in relief). But I’m going to tell the waitress that I am never coming here again.”

And we burst out laughing.

A Lasting Memory.

Of course, the production that will stay with me always, is Martha Henry in her last production, and particularly her last performance (Oct. 9, 2021) in Three Tall Women at the Stratford Festival. Diana Leblanc’s production was beautifully nuanced, subtle and riveting. The production was unforgiving yet graceful, hard yet funny and heartbreaking. And it showed Martha Henry determined and at the top of her theatrical powers; the fluttering hands that looked like ribbons floating on a breeze; the sultry voice making every syllable count; it was Martha Henry who had a deep understanding of her character and illuminated the pure command she had over her audience to make them feel uncomfortable, unsettled, but beguiled.

It was about a woman at the end of her life although I was sure this was not the end of the woman playing her, even though I knew Martha was ill. Not THAT Martha. But there is that line at the end of the play, “There’s a difference between knowing you’re going to die and knowing you’re going to die.” And she knew.

Martha started the run of the play in August using a walker. She finished the run using a wheelchair. Director Diana Leblanc kept re-staging the production to accommodate these ambulatory changes. Martha had been in failing health for two years and was stoical about it. It was reasonable to believe this was her last show. But, but, but, Martha Henry was so determined that it’s also reasonable that she could find the strength to do another production, next year, in Richard III as had been scheduled before COVID cancelled everything.

Her final bow Oct. 9 was electrifying. I’ve never seen such joy and defiance that she got through it. The standing ovation was instantly spontaneous and totally earned. Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino was there to give her a huge bouquet of yellow roses. He knelt on one knee and handed her the bouquet. It was so touching. Then Martha turned the wheelchair, waived and went off. It reminded me of William Hutt, also a great actor who would wave as he exited, indicating he was not coming back for more bows because he was tired. With Martha Henry this was different. This was final. I thought, “Don’t you dare wave like that as if it’s the end. Don’t!

I knew there were festivities backstage. I waited for Martha when they were finished. She came out the stage door with her daughter Emma pushing the wheelchair and Diana Leblanc with them. I gave Martha her traditional Tootsie Pop as thanks for such a gift of a performance. She was glad/surprised to see me saying she sent me a card and if she knew I was going to be there, she would have given it to me.

I had given Diana a bottle of champagne to give to Martha for her past birthday in February. I always gave her a bottle of champagne for her birthday, but because of COVID was not able to this year. The three-hour break between Act I in the afternoon and Act II in the evening was a perfect time to pass on the bottle. I figured that was quick—to have written a card of thanks for the champagne and mailed it—was pure Martha.

Martha was tired. I squeezed her hand—because of her fragile health I dared not kiss her cheek, thanked her again and said good-bye. It was the last time I would see her.

On Tuesday night Diana e-mailed me and said that Martha was sleeping most of the time and being given her pain killers intravenously. By a nurse. I was stunned. “Is she leaving us?” I e-mailed back. “Yes” was the reply. Emma, Diana and a few other close friends kept vigil by Martha’s bedside.

I received Martha’s card on Oct. 15. It wasn’t a card thanking me for her birthday champagne. It was a card saying good-bye in the most elegant, sensitive, funny ‘Martha way’ without actually using those words. And a smiling, joyful Marilyn Monroe was on the front of the card. I sobbed reading it. Typical of Martha, thinking of others right to the end.

Martha Henry died a little after midnight, Oct. 21. She was 83.  

When Diana e-mailed me at 12:38 am that Martha was gone, I went to the fridge to find something to drink to toast her. At the bottom of the shelf at the back was a bottle of wine. I was stunned when I read the label. It was chardonnay. I don’t drink chardonnay. But Martha Henry does/did. I think I might have bought it to give to her the next time we met for dinner. Martha Henry, gone but not really gone, always there even when we don’t realize it.  

Here’s to you and thank you, dearest Martha, for a life filled with the finest art; being the most supportive, encouraging, guiding friend and being an example of what a truly special human being really is.




Wednesday, November 3-Dec. 12,  2021. 8: 25 pm

From Soulpepper

Draw Me Close by Jordan Tannahill

Immersive live theatre experience.


After captivating imaginations around the globe, this pioneering work makes its Canadian Premiere.

Draw Me Close blurs the worlds of live performance, virtual reality, and animation to create a vivid memoir about the relationship between a mother and her son charting twenty-five years of love, learning, and loss. Weaving theatrical storytelling with cutting-edge technology, the performance allows the audience member to take the part of the protagonist, Jordan, inside a live, animated world.

Thursday, November 4-6 2021.

Emma Rice:

Wise Children’s “Wuthering Heights” (Nov. 4-6)

Streaming. Note the time change from Britain.

Thursday, Nov. 4-14, 2021

The Spectators’ Odyssey

From TOlive.

This unique show consists of two distinct experiences – Blue and Red:


Inspired by Homer’s The Odyssey, in this journey you will embark upon a multidisciplinary voyage across art forms including radio documentary, dance, playwriting, poetry, virtual reality filmmaking, and augmented immersive concerts. Travel through the backstage of the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts and make choices that will influence the narrative you experience. 


Inspired by Dante’s Inferno, in this journey you will lose yourself in an underworld hidden among the real-life streets of Toronto and the St. Lawrence Market at night. Visit a world suspended between ancient and contemporary, sacred and profane, and experience close encounters with your inner mysteries and the ones of those around you. 

Please be advised:

• This piece contains explicit language and mature themes.

• At times, during the piece, there are intense flashing lights, those with photosensitivity, are advised.

• During certain sections of the piece, audiences may find themselves in dark and/or small spaces

• As this work is interactive, you may come close to an actor. Please do not actively touch the actors. They will also not actively or intentionally touch you.

Please note that audience members will be on their feet throughout the event and will need to move through a variety of spaces. It may not be possible to accommodate all accessibility needs, and those with questions about accessibility should contact us as soon as possible.

The Spectators’ Odyssey – o dell ’Inferno will be performed with timed entry. Groups of 8 will begin their voyage every 15 minutes for one of two different journeys,

each approximately one hour. Audience can choose to do journey A or B or both.

Tuesday, Nov 2, 7PM – 10PM

Wednesday, Nov 3, 7PM – 10PM

Thursday, Nov 4, 7PM – 10PM

Friday, Nov 5, 7PM – 10PM

Saturday, Nov 6, 7PM – 10PM

Sunday, Nov 7, 1PM – 4PM & 6PM – 9PM

Wednesday, Nov 10, 7PM – 10PM

Thursday, Nov 11, 7PM – 10PM

Friday, Nov 12, 7PM – 10PM

Saturday, Nov 13, 7PM – 10PM

Sunday, Nov 14, 1PM – 4PM & 6PM – 9PM

TICKETS: $50 per journey or combined ticket of $75 for both.

Tickets are available online at, by phone at 416-366-7723 & 1-800-708-6754, or by email at

TO Live box office phone and email support operates 1pm – 6pm Monday to Friday. On-line sales operate 24 hours per day

Thursday, Nov. 3, 2021. 8:00 pm

Theatre Gargantua presents;

Live and in person:


NOVEMBER 3RD – 14TH, 2021

Emerging from a global state of isolation and uncertainty, Gargantua presents a vital exploration of hope: A Tonic for Desperate Times.  This world premiere, two years in the making, investigates our instinct for optimism, and the surprising places hope can be found — in the fractal patterns of nature, the swing of a pendulum, the murmuration of starlings in flight.  Merging dynamic physical movement with sound and video installations, this live and in-person performance is at the forefront of Toronto’s return to theatres.

Premiering in the heart of Toronto’s vibrant west end at Historic St. Anne’s Parish Hall, A Tonic for Desperate Times is a communal experience of resilience and courage. A balm for injured souls.


Performances run November 3rd to 14th, 2021 at Historic St. Anne’s Parish Hall (651 Dufferin Street).

A Tonic for Desperate Times (Preview)Wednesday November 3, 2021 – 08:00 PM EDT

SelectA Tonic for Desperate Times (Preview)Thursday November 4, 2021 – 08:00 PM EDT

SelectA Tonic for Desperate TimesFriday November 5, 2021 – 08:00 PM EDT

Join the Waiting List

SOLD OUTA Tonic for Desperate TimesSaturday November 6, 2021 – 08:00 PM EDT

SelectA Tonic for Desperate Times (Pay What You Can)Sunday November 7, 2021 – 02:00 PM EDT

SelectA Tonic for Desperate TimesSunday November 7, 2021 – 08:00 PM EDT

SelectA Tonic for Desperate TimesTuesday November 9, 2021 – 08:00 PM EDT

SelectA Tonic for Desperate TimesWednesday November 10, 2021 – 08:00 PM EDT

SelectA Tonic for Desperate TimesThursday November 11, 2021 – 08:00 PM EDT

SelectA Tonic for Desperate TimesFriday November 12, 2021 – 08:00 PM EDT

SelectA Tonic for Desperate TimesSaturday November 13, 2021 – 02:00 PM EDT

SelectA Tonic for Desperate TimesSaturday November 13, 2021 – 08:00 PM EDT

SelectA Tonic for Desperate TimesSunday November 14, 2021 – 02:00 PM EDT


Saturday, November 6, 2021. 2:00 pm

Streaming for free:

From the National Arts Centre in Ottawa

Copenhagen by Michael Frayn.

Free Video-on-demand available

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