And So It Goes – Factory Theatre

by Lucy Allen

AAhhh, Canadian theatre.  In university, I was saturated with it, and the name of George F. Walker became known to us as an icon.  So, naturally, when I heard that he had written a new play, And So It Goes, currently playing at the Factory Theatre, I had to check it out.

And So It Goes is about Ned (Peter Donaldson) and Gwen (Martha Burns), a middle-class couple dealing with the difficulties of taking care of their schizophrenic daughter, Karen (Jenny Young).  As they continue to be pushed to their limit, both mentally and financially, each begin to seek out stranger and stranger methods of dealing with their problems, including getting therapy from an imaginary Kurt Vonnegut (Jerry Franken).

Having only seen one George F. Walker play before this, I can’t say for certain whether Walker fans will be disappointed or thrilled, but his style is definitely there, and there was a lot that I enjoyed about the show.  The grim and somewhat surreal circumstances of this disturbed family are balanced with moments of dark humour and sheer oddness that is the character of Vonnegut.

Jerry Franken clearly enjoys his role of the imaginary, dead literary legend, and there are some very nice moments between him and the other characters.  Martha Burns as Gwen also does a good job transforming from a frustrated housewife into a delusional and hopeless woman.  In fact, there’s a lot to relate to with the recent troubles the recession has brought the majority of society.  Watching how easily people can be reduced to nothing is disturbing, to say the least.

But for both me and my show partner Monika, it was Jenny Young as the schizophrenic Karen that really made the show.  Her presence was always felt, whether she was on or offstage.  Her struggles with her own sanity and the toll it takes on her parents are difficult to watch, and it’s heartbreaking to see where her journey takes her.  Young does all of this with passion and rage and still manages to keep her character entirely likeable.

One of the only qualms I had with the show were the transitions, and I’m not sure whether to blame the design or the script.  For the most part, the music chosen for scene changes worked with the tone of the show, but for some scenes, it simply jarred me out of the entire experience.  There was one particularly heartbreaking scene that ended very abruptly followed by music that sounded like theme music to a morning talk show.  It just didn’t belong and pulled me out of the scene entirely.

For those of you who need their plots wrapped up nicely, this may not be the show for you.  I enjoyed the somewhat abrupt ending that never really gave any resolution to the plot but at least indicated that the characters might somehow change their ways.  Monika, on the other hand, felt it was incomplete and was waiting for the next scene to begin only to be greeted with a curtain call.  You can tell that Walker wants to take the show somewhere, he just doesn’t quite seem to get to his destination.

Other than that, And So It Goes is a good, solid show with some great performances.  Not only that, but it’s on an extended run until Mar. 6 so your chance to see it has increased.  Check it out before it’s too late!


And So It Goes is playing at the Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst Street) until Mar 6.
-Shows are Tues-Sat 8pm and Sun 2pm
-Tickets are $25 for Tues-Thurs, and $35 Fri-Sat, with PWYC on Sun or $25 in advance.  $10 limited Rush tickets are available Tues, Wed, and Fri.
-Tickets can be purchased online or by calling the box office 416-504-9971.