I Heart Failure (Cheeky Tourist Theatre Company) 2015 Toronto Fringe Review

Photo of Collette Johns

Cheeky Tourist Theatre Company’s I Heart Failure centers around one woman who explores the roots of her current inertia. It touches on fear, rejection, authenticity, and personal growth, and is now playing at the Toronto Fringe Festival.

I Heart Failure is a one-woman show directed by Tim Ronan and starring Collette Johns. She plays herself and numerous other characters, from ex-boyfriends to her childhood self. Her ability to transform herself into other people was very engaging.

With minimal set design, Johns makes use of props to signal character and scene changes. One recurring prop is the heart balloon in the middle of the stage, which she uses as a mirror to address herself.

I was expecting the play to be a comedy. It was instead more of a cathartic monologue infused with humour. While some of the jokes fell flat, John’s anecdotes were sincere and relatable, especially for 20-somethings still looking for their life’s purpose.

I thought the narrative could have had better flow. Some parts of the monologue were at times awkward and the transitions between stories could have been crisper.

What I really did enjoy was Johns’ performance as a whole. She was energetic and charming, and I could really sense that she was showing the audience her authentic self. She had a great stage presence and moved her body with grace.

She especially connected with the audience after her story about her dad teaching her to catch a ball. After many more personal admissions, that connection grew deeper.

Ultimately, I Heart Failure teaches us that in order to do anything, we have to overcome our fears and accept failure as an outcome. The play itself is a testament that good things come when you step out of your comfort zone.


  • I Heart Failure is playing until July 11 at the Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse. (79 St. George St)
  • Tickets are $12 in advance, $10 at the door. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
  • Tickets can be purchased online, by phone (416-966-1062), from the festival box office down Honest Ed’s Alley (581 Bloor West), or from the venue box office starting one hour before the performance. Venue sales are cash-only.
  • Be advised that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and latecomers are never admitted. Set your watch to CBC time, and arrive a few minutes early to avoid disappointment.

Remaining Showtimes
July 03 at 07:00 PM
July 04 at 03:30 PM
July 05 at 01:00 PM
July 08 at 11:00 PM
July 09 at 04:15 PM
July 11 at 01:45 PM

Photo of Collette Johns by Kelly Sears