Review: Lost Lounge (Buddies In Bad Times)

Take a journey with the Split Britches Theatre Company in Toronto

In the interests of full disclosure, I will state my bias plainly at the beginning of this review: I have been a huge fan of Split Britches Theatre Company, and especially of Peggy Shaw who I was privileged to work with when she was an artist-in-residence at my university, for twenty years. I totally fell for Lost Lounge, but I would have been a lot more surprised if I hadn’t.

In this case, my love of the artists at work turned out to be an asset in watching this show. Once the show proper begins, it does not start in a way that I found welcoming – it has a jarring, disjointed quality that I understand (and understood at the time) was purposeful, but it made it harder for me to stay connected to the show. Here’s where love for both the theatre and for Split Britches served me; I was able to trust that we were going somewhere and sign on for it in principle until we got there in practice.

It was worth it. Like chaos resolving itself into a symphony, the disparate and sometimes dissonant elements of the show that left me feeling weirdly unmoored and unsatisfied began to coalesce. Especially good was the artists’ choice to validate how we were all feeling, drawing a direct emotional parallel to the disquieting experience of watching a lifetime neighbourhood become unrecognizable, seemingly overnight. It moved me as an audience member in just the right ways. I had been feeling uncomfortable and out-of-sorts, then Shaw and Weaver met me in that emotional moment and built the whole rest of the show on it.

Not a lot of companies could pull that off. To the woman who left after five minutes: o, ye of little faith.

Lost Lounge is ultimately a show about how hard it is to orient and locate ourselves in a world that is changing very fast and being increasingly privatized and corporatized. The piece moves us through the ways we react to that sense of dis-location. I was also interested to see a rich subthread in the piece about aging, which I really valued. It worked closely with the major narrative about removing anything that with age or character on it to replace it with something shiny and profitable.

I’m reluctant to comment too much on some of the specifics of the show, in order to preserve some of the unfolding sense of wonder. The pieces of the puzzle fit together at such a perfect pace, and with such style, I can’t bear to ruin the experience. Just trust me: see this, and just lean into the initial discomfort. You’ll be rewarded and rewarded again by this truly extraordinary company.


– Lost Lounge plays at Buddies In Bad Times Theatre (12 Alexander St) till 5 May, 2012.
– Performances run Thursday to Saturday at 8pm.
-Ticket price ranges from $10 to $30.
-Tickets can be purchased calling the Buddies Box Office at 416-975-8555

Photo of Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver