Lambs In Winter (Riverslea) – 2010 Fringe Festival Toronto

By Adam Collier

A company named Riverslea is staging a play as part of the Fringe at the Bathurst Street Theatre. The title is Lambs In Winter.

A placard at the ticket table announces that the performers appear courtesy of Actors Equity. I figured that might be a good sign.

Lambs In Winter begins with a rant on global warming. The speaker is a neo-conservative baby boomer named Tony (Allan Price). Several more diatribes on politics follow.

(*editors note: There are spoilers in this piece, although I think I removed the biggest one, still, read with caution)

A turning point comes in the midst of one Tony’s making on abortion, when his wife Katherine (Karen Skidmore) reveals that she’s had one. She goes on to reveal she’s been having an affair for two decades with Tony’s best friend Richard (Julian Nicholson).

Tony meets Richard the next night for a drink. Instead of confronting Richard though, he asks him for money to cover investment losses he’s been hiding from Katherine. Richard agrees.

When Richard reveals to Katherine that her husband is broke, she confronts Tony with this, and Tony no longer has a reason to hold back his wrath at Richard.

But because Tony is still broke and needs Richard’s money, they are stuck in an odd threesome.

Songs performed onstage by Ray Rivers (also the playwright) punctuate the show. At least one is original song (Rivers is credited in the notes for writing the theme to the play); mostly they’re covers of songs from the Sixties.

“The political stuff – the global warming and economy – just went on and on, y’know the play – the relationship drama – didn’t start for about twenty minutes,” one patron told me after the show when I asked him his thoughts on it. Adding, “I wanted to leave; I saw other people leaving but didn’t want to disrupt the work.”

Lambs In Winter got some laughs, most in the first half-hour. And it’s the first play I’ve seen that directly incorporates a plummeting stock market into the plot. Mr. Rivers also manages to construct a sympathetic neo-conservative, something I’ve never seen.


Lambs In Winter plays at the Bathurst Street Theatre (736 Bathurst Street)

– Remaining performances include: Friday July 9th at 5:15OM, and; Sunday July 11th at 7:00PM