Tough Guy Mountain: a play (Tough Guy Mountain) 2015 SummerWorks Review

19537092390_cb5f82defb_zThe unpaid internship is a rite of passage for many early 20-something recent grads with a certain level of affluence. I’ve done my fair share of them. But for a bright-eyed grad, being thrust into the working world is often an alienating experience. Writer/director Iain Soder explores this alienation in Tough Guy Mountain presented in Toronto as part of the SummerWorks Festival

The show follows Intern Lisa (Jessica Brown) on her first day of an unpaid internship at Tough Guy Mountain, a way over-the-top spoof of a marketing agency complete with an endless stream of overly-enthusiastic interns, Disney Villainesque middle managers and holograms of executives to greet you on your first day on the job.

Perhaps the show is meant to evoke the confounding and labyrinthine corporate world with its arcane rituals and corporate speak while at the same time presenting a critique of corporations’ exploitation of unpaid intern labour … At least, that’s where I think the show was aiming, but I don’t think it hit really the mark.

Tough Guy Mountain goes after some big ideas and tries hard to be clever and insightful but essentially, it boils down to the following: corporations are bad, branding is inauthentic, commercial interests are usurping and killing art and wouldn’t we all rather just be creating art than working for the man? It came across to me like an ineloquent and unfocused Millennial whinge.

It’s sort of musical, but not really — two or three random songs by composer Rory Maclellan does not a musical make. I also don’t think the show is helped by its production design; a series of screen saver-like projections distract more than they enhance. Then there are the coverall costumes for the interns, the exaggerated, robotic choreography, the pseudo-corporate jargon; all of it feels like a laboured metaphor.

The cast members really do commit and try their hardest to sell the material but absent any real insight or biting satire in the script, the entire exercise just comes off feeling sophomoric and kind of silly. Unfortunately, I didn’t even find the show fun or funny so it just made for a tedious hour of theatre for me.


Tough Guy Mountain: a play plays at Factory Theatre Studio,
125 Bathurst Street

Show times:

  • Thursday August 6th 5:45 PM
  • Saturday August 8th 7:00 PM
  • Sunday August 9th 5:45 PM
  • Tuesday August 11th 5:00 PM
  • Wednesday August 12th 10:15 PM
  • Saturday August 15th 5:30 PM
  • Sunday August 16th 8:00 PM

Individual SummerWorks tickets are $15 at the door (cash only). Live Art Series tickets are free – $20. Tickets are available online at, by phone at 888-328-8384, Monday – Friday 8:30am-5pm, in person at the SummerWorks Info Booth – located at SummerWorks Central Box Office – located at Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst St). Open August 4-16 from 10am-7pm (Advance tickets are $15 + service fee)

Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 3 shows

Photo provided by the company