Review: The Grace Project: SICK! – Next Stage Theatre Festival

By Sam Mooney

The SICK Collective

I have to admit that I wasn’t expecting SICK! from The SICK Collective to be wonderful. Probably because most of the teen shows about teens that I’ve seen just aren’t that interesting. Or they take place in the bleakest future imaginable. Shows what I know. Sick is a fabulous show. Partly because of the people whose stories these are and partly because Judith Thompson listened to all the stories and then dramatized them.

The ensemble is fabulous. The thirteen actors range in age from 14 to 30, some have acting experience, some are new to the stage.

The stories are about what it’s like for each of them to live with a chronic illness or disability, about how they are viewed by their peers and by society in general, and about how they live their lives to the fullest without buying in to anyone else’s view. There was a lot of emotion but absolutely no self-pity. There is also amazing determination not to be defined by their illness or disability. They are all strong young adults who are making the most of their talents.

Parts of the show are heart-warming and parts are heart-rending. I couldn’t find my kleenex so had to sniff through the latter. So did the woman behind me. It wasn’t all grand emotion, there were light moments too, some very funny.

The audience thanked the players with a well-deserved standing ovation.

Definitely worth seeing!

Details:

– The Grace Project: SICK! is part of The Next Stage Theatre Festival and is playing at the Factory Theatre Mainspace at the corner of Bathurst and Adelaide.
– The show runs for 75 minutes with no intermission
– Tickets are $12 to $15. There are also packages available
– Tickets can be purchased online, by phone – 416-966-1062 or 1-866-515-7799, or at the box office inside the heated McAusland Beer Tent at Factory Theatre
– SICK! runs until January 16, 2011. Check the schedule for days and times.

Photo of the ensemble by Sarah Miller-Garvin

3 thoughts on “Review: The Grace Project: SICK! – Next Stage Theatre Festival”

  1. I simply don’t understand this show, at all. Firstly, let me begin by saying that the ensemble must be commended and celebrated for their honesty and courage in opening up about their illnesses in such a public forum. My frustration with the show was not about the performers–but pretty much everything else upset me. The show has the word Sick in the title, and yet, I am unable to determine the illness of four of the people on that stage. Two of the men were homosexual (and also dealing with cultural barriers), and two of the women were black (and dealt with a lot of bullying and racism). How does this make them sick? I find it appalling that these stories were presented under the banner of ‘illness’. Now, if the show had been about being ostracized, or feeling alienated, or the world being ‘sick’ because of the way it treats certain people, well then, sure. I can see how all those stories fit into that theme. But to have a show where race or sexual orientation are likened to cancer and crone’s disease as illnesses, to me, seems completely off track and extremely inappropriate. Are they saying that anyone who is seen as ‘other’ is ‘sick’? Are we back in the 60’s when people actually thought that? Are you kidding? Congratulations, again, to the cast for their work, and bravery. The show, however, was very upsetting and problematic to me, and not in a cathartic way.

  2. I understand what you’re saying, I had to go back and read the blurb on the Fringe site – http://www.fringetoronto.com/nstf/nstf_shows.html – to see how some of the stories fit. This seems to be covering all the bases – “concepts and ideas relating to disability, illness, challenge, and what it means to be thought of as sick by the rest of the world”.

    I agree that equating homosexuality, racism, and bullying with cancer and Crohn’s disease seems a bit strange but I remember when i was in my teens, not a lot of shades of grey. All the bad stuff was equally bad.

    The performances made it worth the confusion for me.

    Let me know if you see At the Sans Hotel and whether you find it confusing.

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