Abra-Cadaver (The Deep End) 2011 Toronto Fringe Review

“Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.”
-Dorothy Parker

Dorothy Parker was a professional wit. She was a poet, satirist, playwright and (first female) theatre critic. She was invited to parties in hopes she’d utter one of her dark-tinted turns of phrase (“If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to.”) Dorothy Parker was also a professional suicidalist. Her numerous attempts at the afterlife were well-documented and lampooned by polite society, from which Parker kept a comfortable distance.

In Abra-Cadaver, by production company The Deep End, we’re introduced to Parker, defier of death, at age 100. She doesn’t understand why she can’t just kick the bucket once and for all, so this time she’s recruited an audience to help her.

Dorothy Parker memorial outside Tarragon Theatre

The one-woman show (supported behind the scenes by more than one person, she points out) weaves stories from Parker’s life with dialogue from her novels and books of poetry (“I don’t care what is written about me, so long as it isn’t true.”)

The show is a strange introduction to Parker — it never quite explains why she hates life so, except that she finds living to be “so common, so pedestrian.”

The goofy audience interaction sometimes overshadowed the more sensitive moments where the cynical writer reflects on love and life (Parker did, after all, survive into her 70s and died of natural causes… some suppose the failed suicide attempts were just an extension of her dark wit.)

Overall, though, the script was playful and bold and packed with one-liners. Whether she really yearned for death, Parker did have one post-humous wish: that upon her tombstone be set the words; “Wherever she went, including here, it was against her better judgment.”


Top photo: Jenna Turk as Dorothy Parker. By director Maya Rabinovitch
Bottom photo: Dorothy Parker memorial outside Tarragon Theatre. By Dana Lacey


Abra-Cadavre is playing at Tarragon Theatre, 30 Bridgman Ave., Toronto. 

60 min.
Wed, July 6 8:45 PM 202
Sun, July 10 6:30 PM 223
Mon, July 11 1:00 PM 226
Tue, July 12 3:30 PM 233
Wed, July 13 11:00 PM 244
Fri, July 15 Noon 252
Sat, July 16 8:45 PM 264


– All individual Fringe tickets are $10 ($5 for FringeKids) at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online at www.fringetoronto.com, by phone at 416-966-1062, in person at The Randolph Centre for the Arts, 736 Bathurst Street (Advance tickets are $11 – $10+$1 convenience fee)
– Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows

One thought on “Abra-Cadaver (The Deep End) 2011 Toronto Fringe Review”

  1. … a “professional wit” — i think you’re dead-on right, there! … and as you mentioned, a theatre critic, too. easily one of the funniest to review at ‘the new yorker,’ where she was filling-in in the post for a friend. … because parker, as you can tell from the quote you mentioned above, about money, definitely did not share the values of high society (though was immersed in it), her reviews of stuffy material like operas, and broadway revivals, are hilarious! she totally lampoons the material. … her short stories are worth taking a look at for a sense of her sadness. i think she was constantly anxious about love, and never felt comfortable in a relationship. … i’m not saying that’s why she was suicidal, but it does, maybe, shed some light on what a vulnerable and sensitive person she was, even though her somewhat acerbic sense of humour makes her seem quite tough …

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