Review: Here Lies Henry

by Lynn on December 10, 2023

in The Passionate Playgoer

Live and in person at the Factory Theatre, Mainspace, Toronto, Ont. plays until Dec. 17, 2023.

Written by Daniel MacIvor

Directed by Tawiah M’Carthy

Set, props and lighting by Andre Du Toit

Sound by Olivia Wheeler

Wardrobe stylist

Cast: Damien Atkins

Stylish, bracing, mysterious and beautifully realized.

Playwright Daniel MacIvor has updated his 2006 masterful monologue to reflect changes in our modern world. What has not changed is that Henry (Damien Atkins) is still a man alone in a room on a mission to tell us something we don’t already know. That can be almost anything.

Damien Atkins as Henry, appears in a blinding rectangle of light—bravo to Andre Du Toit for the precise lighting. Henry wears a grey suit, white shirt, no tie and is barefoot. Perhaps the bare feet is showing theatre respect for the stage.   And while Henry is charming, disarming, wide-eyed, curious about the world and who is out there, Henry admits he is a self-confessed liar. He’s a man who tries to improve. He took a public speaking course and inadvertently displays some of the things to avoid. Uttering “uhm” when at a lost for words. Saying “Sorry” when an apology is not necessary. He then gets into a frenzied loop of saying: “Uhm. Sorry, Uhm” etc.

Henry tells us of his early boyhood days, he mentions he is homosexual and says it as a matter of course. It’s a life full of incident, relationships etc. He mentions “the body in the other room.” Who is it, one wonders? Its it someone Henry knows? Is it a stranger?” Did Henry kill the person? Is it a lie in order to look with wonder and intrigue at Henry? It’s to the acting ability of Damien Atkins and director Tawiah M’Carthy that we are always suckered onto the story and the play and almost as an afterthought remember that Henry said he was a liar.

Damien Atkins is so focused, compelling, seemingly lost in a moment, perhaps anxious that he just wins over the audience to like him, believe him and feel he’s telling the truth, until he reminds us he’s a liar. Or so he says. He notices the shirt of a person in the audience. He notices another person in the audience for another innocuous reason. Again, Damien Atkins makes Henry so likeable, even with a little barb here or there.

Tawiah M’Carthy’s direction is detailed, meticulous and intricate. Andre Du Toit’s evocative lighting is almost another character in the show. It’s stark and arresting. Masterful work.  

Ant the title is a delicious pun.

Factory Theatre presents:

Plays until Dec. 17, 2023.

Running time: 80 minutes (no intermission)

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