This past Wednesday night, I had the honour of being invited to The Gladstone Theatre for the Black Sheep Theatre and Criminal Girlfriends joint production of Fierce. After initially reading the write up of the play on the Gladstone’s website, I was immediately intrigued, as it sounded so remarkably different from typical theatrical productions. If you go through my past theatre reviews, you’ll see a common theme of hilarity, fun, and happy/feel good stories. Fierce, despite moments of tongue-in-cheek humour, was completely different. It’s a dark, yet powerful look into the psyches of two surprisingly like-minded women: a psychologist and a patient, who bond over equally disturbing pasts.
Jayne, played by two-time “Jessie Richardson” award winner, Emmelia Gordon, is the patient, who is ordered to undergo therapy as part of a mandatory sentence, after being convicted of drug related offences. The show begins with psychologist Maggie, played by Pandora Topp, beginning a standard therapy session to address the underlying issues that have led Jayne to drug use and destructive life choices. The tables quickly turn when Jayne demands some difficult answers from Maggie, and as the therapy session progresses, we learn more about the horrific pasts that each of these women have endured, and what they use as a means to cope. Their stories are profoundly deep and painful, and definitely touch on some difficult topics, which may be triggering for anyone who has suffered from similar tragedies. Both actresses were absolutely brilliant in their performances. While the show runs only 75 minutes, it is a constant and direct dialogue with regular outbursts of every type of emotion you could imagine. When you watch their raw performances, you can’t help but to feel each of these emotions as they’re expressed by the two actresses. The crowd was completely silent for the entire production, with the exception of a few snickers at some of Jayne’s off-handed remarks, and her crude and sarcastic sense of humour.
The theatre itself is perfect for the show. The set is very simple; it takes place in the office of Maggie, with a couch, chair and a table with a lamp. At first glance, one would wonder what other props or set features exist, but you quickly realize that none are needed and would only distract from brilliance taking place on stage. The performances are enough to blow you away! The theatre is small-ish and gives you the feeling that you’re right inside of the office with them, to the point where you almost want to stand up and offer to help them! Although I was sitting pretty close, there’s not a bad seat to be had. If you want more details about the theatre and its amenities, you can check out my review for Cry Baby at the Gladstone.
On the Gladstone website, they state that the show is “intended for adults” and I can’t stress that enough. It is full of vulgarity and adult themes, including abuse, heavy drug use and alcoholism, and it is not suitable for children, including young teens. Although not a happy, feel-good story for the most part, I would absolutely recommend seeing this show. The acting is flawless, making for a fantastic experience. Tickets are still available for future shows for only $39 each (discounts may apply). It’s running October 3rd – 13th with matinees on Saturday and Sunday as well. You can check the website for full details. Enjoy!