Review: The Story (Theatre Columbus)

The Story returns for a second year of performance to Toronto’s Evergreen Brick Works

The story of “The Story” is one very familiar to Catholics, and probably pretty well known to others as well – the Nativity. Interestingly enough, it’s a fairly secular take on the Christmas story; there really isn’t much mention of “the son of God” or much Catholic doctrine. It’s about the birth of an important child who bring about peace and love and “a new idea”. In fact, the angel Gabriel spends some time wondering just what the Holy Spirit is. It’s the Nativity story but it’s full of questioning about what it means to be human.

It’s also fairly modern – one of the three wise men mentions “the space time continuum” when noticing that they’re in 2012 – and very funny, without mocking, as well. Coming from a Catholic school background, it was intriguing to watch a humourous, fairly secular version of the Nativity and I enjoyed it immensely.

I had never been to the Evergreen Brick Works, and it provides a unique backdrop for The Story. Graffiti-lined corridors, wooded areas, and bridges make up the set – but for the most part, it’s too dark to notice the city around you. The performance makes great use of the space; characters run off through the audience and into the woods and off to the next scene. Areas are lit up as needed and recordings are played as you pass. In addition, a choir sporadically pops up throughout the performance, singing Christmas carols – for my performance, this was the World Harmony Folk Choir – which is a lovely touch, and were used to great effect during longer walking transitions.

The lighting was particularly interesting. The “star” that the wise men were following was often a lit up smoke stack. You followed a man with a glowing lantern to the next area, which would light up just as everyone arrived. The coordination of the lights, sounds, and actors in such a sprawling, outdoor space was impressive.

The performances were also fantastic. All the actors, save for Mary (played by Haley McGee) played multiple roles and often would run off into the darkness to switch costumes and characters for later scenes. It was lovely to watch.

Remember to bundle up – the show takes place outdoors, at night, in December, and this is Canada, after all. It’s also worth noting that it’s a mobile show – you cover about one kilometre during the performance, on rough terrain – so anyone with mobility issues should take note.

– The Story is playing at the Evergreen Brick Works, (550 Bayview Ave) till December 30, 2012.
– Free shuttle service will depart from behind Broadview Station at 6:15pm, 6:45pm and 7:15pm and will travel back after the show.
– Shows run Tuesday to Saturday at 7:30 p.m. No shows on December 10, 17, 24, 25, and 26
– Tickets for Adults are $30. Tickets for children aged 13 and under $12.50. Student, Senior and Arts Workers pay $22.50
– Tickets are available in person at Theatre Passe Muraille’s box office (16 Ryerson Ave), by phone at 416.504.7529 or online at