Review: Dairy-Free Love (Savory Entertainment)

Dinner theatre delights in Dairy-Free Love at Toronto’s Winchester bar

Victoria Murdoch’s one-person show Dairy-Free Love opened on Friday night at the Winchester. Interesting choice of venue, a restaurant/bar for a play that features a cooking show. Real food was produced.

Victoria plays Dawn, host of a daily internet cooking show, who is channelling a 1950s housewife. Dawn is a perfectionist who needs to control everything around her. Because of this she hasn’t been out of the house for five years.

The show opens with a call to a help line. We don’t know who is calling but we know from the menu choices that the person making the call wants to talk to someone and is put on hold. The show ends with Dawn picking up the phone to talk to someone.

In between Dawn makes three dairy and gluten-free desserts, explaining to her internet audience – and us – how to make them and chatting, telling little stories. I loved that she actually makes something real – and shares it with the audience after the show.

My daughter Megan and I both enjoyed the show. Megan said that the call is what makes the show interesting, we know something is going to happen. It’s a layered piece with more going on than initially appears on the surface and that holds our attention.

Through her internet show Dawn tells a couple of stories about her college roommate. Meg was surprised when Dawn told her audience that she still visits and that she grocery shops for Dawn once a week.

It was fascinating to watch Dawn holding it together on the surface and falling apart underneath. She’s an ultra-prim character and her need for control keeps her from breaking down. The play ended at exactly the right spot.

If you don’t live in Cabbagetown you might not know the Winchester. It’s a restaurant/bar that has something interesting happening every night. They added theatre a few months ago and I’ve been meaning to go. I like theatre in a cabaret-like setting. Nice to be able to sip a drink and watch a show.

They’re offering a prix-fixe menu for the run of Dairy-Free Love. Megan and I both had the salad and steak frits and dessert. It was delicious. The salad had a lovely vinaigrette and the steak and fries were perfect. I’d definitely go there for dinner again. The dinner and play option is really nice. There is also a regular menu if you prefer something on that to the prix-fixe option.

It can be difficult to stage a play where people are eating. Sometimes the clicking of plates, cutlery and glasses can be a distraction. Not last night. I didn’t even notice them.

What I did notice were the rude people at the back who talked through the performance – I guess they thought “it’s a bar, we can talk”- and the even ruder person who arrived right at then end and – in a really loud voice – told the person at the door that “we’re a private party…” I know Mooney on Theatre readers don’t do that but I felt a need to vent.

Dinner and Dairy-Free Love make for a lovely evening. I noticed that the women at the table next to us were exchanging gifts. I overheard one of them say what a good idea it was to have dinner and see a play.


Dairy-Free Love is playing at the Winchester (51A Winchester Street at Parliament) until December 23rd
– Performances are at 8pm with dinner at 7pm
– Tickets are $15.00. There’s a PWYC Christmas Party performance on December 23rd
– Tickets are available online or at the door (but I’d get them online, it’s a small venue)

Photo of Victoria Murdoch by Joanna Haughton – Photo by JoH Photography

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