Review: THE DOLL PLAY: A Miniature Revolution

by Lynn on June 5, 2019

in The Passionate Playgoer

At the Grand Canyon, 2 Osler St. (off Dupont), Toronto, Ont.

Written and directed by Joanne Sarazen

Set by Mike Vitorovich

Lighting by Sebastian Quinn Hoodless

Costumes by Julia Kim

Shadow Puppet designed by Kathleen Atkinson-Hindle

Original music by Neil Rankin

Cast: Breanna Dillon

Adam Driscoll

Chantele Francis

Christopher Hayes

Jonah Hundert

Brittany Kay

Susannah Mackay

Amy Matysio

Laura Vincent

Mike Vitorovich

The Doll Play: A Miniature Revolution is a bold play about abuse but with an intriguing twist.

 The Doll Play: A Miniature Revolution is the bold inaugural play of Grand Canyon, a new theatre space in the Junction (2 Osler St), home of Blood Pact Theatre (No Clowns Allowed, After Wrestling, Killing Your Parents in Viking, Alberta). In the space of three short years, Blood Pact has nicely settled into the city producing provocative, unsettling plays about subjects that keep them (and us) up at night. The Doll Play: A Miniature Revolution certainly fits that theme.

The play takes place in the office of a child psychologist who has used dolls to give comfort to her emotionally, psychologically and physically damaged patients. The play is about those dolls, which themselves have been abused by the damaged children.

Some of the old timer dolls: The Lion, Oldie, Pig and Bear are kept in a shoe box. Oldie spends much of her time sewing up her fellow dolls. There are the new PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride, softer plastic) dolls: Ken, Barbie and Skipper. They are kept away from the battered older dolls. Then there are the two mysterious dolls in the doctor’s drawer: Anne and Andy. They are support dolls that bear the brunt of much distress from their young patients. Anne and Andy escape from the drawer and find their way to the shoe box and the other dolls.  Perhaps more damaged than the dolls is the doctor herself, who hides her own despair and guilt of her neglect of her own daughter while she was busy working.

Mike Vitorovich has designed a set that is inspired. It’s composed of enormous chairs and a large box to suggest the huge world that these diminutive dolls live in. Sitting at desk that towers over the set sits the doctor (a fraught, fragile Chantele Francis), file in hand, lamenting her sad patients and her own damaged daughter.

The self-appointed leader is Lion played with gusto and confidence by Jonah Hundert. His voice booms, his dialogue is clipped and pristine. He is the leader because he is the lion and there is no argument about it. As Pig, Susannah Mackay is quixotic and dangerous, manipulative and conniving. The whole cast of 10 is impressive and accomplished.

Joanne Sarazen has written an intriguing play dealing with an unsettling subject—trauma of mostly damaged children and how they convey that damage by ripping, tearing and destroying their dolls. The way Sarazen tells her story slowly grips the audience into it. That said, I think another pass around the play might be in order. For the most of the play we only have the toys as our means of knowing how damaged the young children are without actually itemizing each child. The exception is the Doctor’s daughter Cecily and I think her inclusion and what happened to her might be a bit of overkill. I think that should be reconsidered.

Writing and producing a play such as The Doll Play: A Miniature Revolution that has 10 characters is daunting for any company let alone two small ones such as Witchboy Theatre and Blood Pact Theatre. Opening your new space with this challenging play takes guts. Blood Pact Theatre is loaded with it. More please.

Presented by: Witchboy Theatre and Blood Pact Theatre:

Began: May 21, 2019.

Closes: June 8, 2019.

Running Time: 90 minutes.

Leave a Comment

Respectful comments are accepted on this site as long as they are accompanied by a verifiable name and a verifiable e-mail address. Posts that are slanderous, libelous or personally derogatory will not be approved.