On Thursday June 22 I went to see Daniel Stolfi’s Cancer Can’t Dance Like This, presented by the Sunnybrook Foundation as part of a fundraiser for Cancer research and facilities. I’ll admit that I’ve been struggling with writing this review because I am having trouble finding the words to convey just how amazing this show really is.
I’ve been trying to see the show since it first came out, but due to a busy schedule and the short run times for the show (it usually only plays one or two nights at a time), its taken me a long time to see it. I was genuinely blown away. Let me just say that the show was worth the wait.
In March of 2008, at the age of 25 Daniel Stolfi was diagnosed with Acute Non-Hodgkin’s T-Lymphoblastic Lymphoma, an aggressive form of Cancer that would require equally aggressive treatment over the next two years of his life.
In Cancer Can’t Dance Like This Stolfi examines the things that Cancer took away from him, performing different characters for the losses of his hair, his appetite, his strength, and his sex drive.
In a hilarious twist it is his hair, appetite, strength, and sex drive that reveal to the audience how Stolfi’s cancer has affected their relationship with him, and how much they miss him.
Each character is quirky and lovable, whether it was his appetite wanting to bring girls back home to his parent’s basement, his strength learning how to play Eye of the Tiger for motivation, or his hair bringing up the house lights in order to check out the audience’s thick hair.
I thought it was amazing how the simple choice to have the character of Stolfi’s sex drive interrupt each of the other character monologues demonstrated how interconnected all of these things really are.
The inclusion of personal journal entries, written during Stolfi’s treatment, is incredibly honest and raw, and provides a connecting thread between the individual character monologues and the stand-up comedy.
There is an amazing honesty to many of the moments in the show, even as I found myself laughing at the way they were presented. I found this especially in the scene where Stolfi is told that the treatment may cause sterility and goes to a sperm bank to “preserve” his sperm.
Stolfi took something devastating and turned it into something beautiful and funny. The honesty of the show is astounding. Stolfi is a joy to watch on stage, and his courage is simply inspiring. I found that by the end of the show I felt like I was right there with him when he danced off against Cancer.
I was so ready to see Stolfi kick Cancer’s ass, that when he finally did, I couldn’t stop clapping, and neither could the rest of the audience. The entire room was on their feet. Three well deserved encores later, all I can really say is go and see this show.
Cancer Can’t Dance Like This was presented by the New Leaders of Sunnybrook Foundation and Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd on July 22, 2010. Check out the Cancer Can’t Dance Like This website for future performances.
Photo of Daniel Stolfi