Skip to main content

Review: Grimly Handsome

/By / Nov 9, 2017

Grimly Handsome

Theatre Animal

Written by Julia Jarcho. Directed by Jay Turvey. At the Assembly Theatre. Runs until November 19.

Grimly Handsome is a triptych thriller exploring the darker side of human and even animal behaviour. But, despite its subject matter, the play is only mildly provocative.

Playwright Julia Jarcho has created a dark world filled with brooding men, a serial killer, corpse-eating animals, and even a dash of adultery. In her program note, she says her inspiration came from how we should all allow ourselves to experience the strangeness around us, to not smooth over the “incommensurabilities and bizarries that assail [us] every day.” It’s always dangerous when a playwright speaks for an audience as a way to explain their work. Surely the play should do that itself.

The accomplished actors—Julia Course, Jeff Irving, and Ben Sanders—play multiple parts each, and all performances are clear, distinct, and help establish the murky world Jarcho has written. Director Jay Turvey is fastidious in focusing each scene as economically as possible in such a small-playing space, crammed with cut-down Christmas trees, tree stumps, and furniture representing a small apartment. Mikael Kangas’ dim lighting also adds to the foreboding atmosphere. Together, the cast and creative team bring out the ominous tone of the piece.

The cast does a good job at portraying characters who appear innocent and charming but who conceal a more sinister reality. That said, I can’t help thinking that Jarcho tries too hard to be provocative. The revelation of the story’s details seem laboured and obvious, resulting in a play that falls very short of the playwright’s intentions.

For tickets or more information, click here.

To read fun facts about the cast—and their animal alter ego!—click here.

Lynn Slotkin

Lynn Slotkin

Lynn is the former theatre critic for Intermission, and currently writes reviews on her blog The Slotkin Letter. She also does theatre reviews, interviews, and commentary for CIUT Friday Morning (89.5 FM). She was a theatre reviewer for CBC's Here and Now for ten years. On average, she sees 280 shows a year.



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

iPhoto caption: Photo courtesy of Cirque du Soleil.

REVIEW: Cirque du Soleil is back in town, an echo of circuses past

It should say something about the Cirque du Soleil brand that even a show like ECHO — unclear in concept and messy around the edges — is a great time for audience members of all ages.

By Aisling Murphy
iPhoto caption: Photo courtesy of Canadian Opera Company.

REVIEW: A new take on Don Pasquale re-imagines its lead as a cat-loving crank

If you love cats, you’ll like Barbe & Doucet’s production of Don Pasquale. 

By Stephen Low
iPhoto caption: Photo by Dahlia Katz

REVIEW: Studio 180 Theatre’s Four Minutes Twelve Seconds stirs one moment and puzzles the next

As the script ties itself in narrative knots, Megan Follows never loses sight of the dramatic situation’s overwhelming nature; it’s as if her character is fending off a panic attack at every moment, grabbing onto any scrap of hope she can.

By Liam Donovan
iPhoto caption: Photo by Dahlia Katz.

REVIEW: Beautiful Scars is a rousing, heartfelt new musical on the life of Tom Wilson

In Beautiful Scars, Hamilton’s hometown hero shares his life story, using the ever-magnetic Sheldon Elter as a mouthpiece.

By Aisling Murphy
Production photo of a Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay about the Death of Walt Disney at Soulpepper Theatre. iPhoto caption: Photo by Dahlia Katz.

REVIEW: A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay About the Death of Walt Disney ‘cuts to’ the core of the man behind the mouse

Soulpepper and Outside the March effectively drown Uncle Walt’s highly manicured public image in acetone, leaving the audience with a grotesque portrait that feels at once comically exaggerated and painfully accurate.

By Ryan Borochovitz
iPhoto caption: Video still courtesy of the Grand Theatre.

REVIEW: In One Step At A Time, Andrew Prashad unpacks disability through tap dance

Prashad’s play is undeniably impactful and advocates for the spina bifida community with great passion and joy.

By Taylor Marie Graham