The Canary Wallpaper & Underwood (Ink on Paper) 2012 Toronto Fringe Review

Poetic and lyrical, The Canary Wallpaper & Underwood   presented by Ink on Paper combines striking choreography accompanied by compelling musical scores and a powerful narrative.  Sure to be one of this year’s most unique pieces at the Toronto Fringe Festival, The Canary Wallpaper & Underwood is hauntingly enticing.

Dance artist, Alice Irene is the driving force behind this show. In her opening number entitled The Canary Wallpaper Irene appears on stage, clearly a tormented writer, cigarette in hand, moving gracefully yet powerfully throughout.

Behind her lies a large black screen projecting text taken from a short story by Charlotte Perkin Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper written in 1892. We learn of a woman struggling to put thoughts on paper, contemplating. Momentarily though, her thoughts become action.

Alice Irene seems to have a list of admiral accomplishments, so I’m not surprised by what she has conceived with this piece. Intricate, moving and emotional, this opening number is simply beautiful to watch.

Following is the evocative Underwood. Choreographed once again by Alice Irene and accompanied by an ensemble of strong and talented dancers, Heather Berry-MacPhail, Jaimee Horn, and Bo Lam, Underwood is very much a tribute to female writers. Each dancer represents a well-known poet or novelist from the past. As each dancer takes hold of their typewriter, another dancer comes forth in an exquisite solo sharing and bearing their soul through a series of movements.

From Sylvia Plath, to Vita Sackville-West, Colette and Virginia Woolf, four extraordinary dancers collaboratively bring these extraordinary lives to life in this powerful modern dance production.

Creatively choreographed and impeccably performed, The Canary Wallpaper & Underwood, offers artistry at its best and undoubtedly will be of the most memorable performances I’ve seen at Fringe.


  • The Canary Wallpaper & Underwood is playing at Theatre Passse Muraille Mainspace at 16 Ryerson Avenue.
  • Show dates include: July 08 11:00 PM, July 11 06:00 PM, July 12 08:45 PM, July 13 04:30 PM and July 14 03:30 PM
  • All individual Fringe tickets are $10 ($5 for FringeKids) at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online at, by phone at 416-966-1062, in person at The Randolph Centre for the Arts, 736 Bathurst Street (Advance tickets are $11 – $9+$2 service charge)
  •  Value packs are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows

Photograph of Alice Irene by Kristie Kahns

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