Review: In a Dark, Dark House (Unit 102)

Get a little dark, in a dark Toronto theatre, with Unit 102’s In a Dark, Dark House.

Long before attending a work by Neil LaBute, I had an impression of what it’d be.

“He writes some seriously dark stuff,” a friend mentioned.

For years this comment, in addition to anecdotes that misogamy and generous obscenity fuels the work, kept me away from LaBute’s plays or, at least, I wasn’t particularly drawn to them.

On actually seeing one of LaBute’s plays – reasons to be pretty at Red Sandcastle last February – I felt differently.

The characters in reasons to be pretty swerved so abruptly between anger and vulnerability, I was on the edge of my seat.

Obscenity and misogamy do occur in LaBute’s work. But what drives the work, I think, is the pain that the characters are in. Not hate. Not anger for the sake of anger.

And because the characters also seem exceptionally willing to fight, the action is, as someone described it to me, visceral.

Nothing seems held back.

So, I was eager to see In a Dark, Dark House at Unit 102, put on by a company that shares the name of the theatre.

Located in one corner of an old brick building that, on one side, has a sign advertising 10 000 feet for corporate / light manufacturing, Unit 102 is a small, no frills space.

The performance area is deep, and the seats are few.

For me, this is like heaven when it comes to theatre. Emphasis is squarely on the actors.

The cast consists of Jessica Lea Fleming, Jesse Ryder Hughes, and David LaFontaine.

Hughes was familiar to me from a previous work at Unit 102, The God of Hell, in which he played a slick, American jingoist.

In LaBute’s play, Hughes delivers some of that same confidence as Drew. But, in the presence of his brother, Terry, played by LaFontaine, this supercilious veneer is scrubbed right off.

Between the crushing power Terry has over Drew, and control he exercises over Fleming’s character Jennifer, Terry, had me on the edge of my seat.

David LaFontaine is a name I am definitely going to keep an eye out for.

I’d strongly recommend checking-out In a Dark, Dark House before it closes at the beginning of September.



– In a Dark, Dark House plays at Unit 102 (376 Dufferin) until September 1st 2012. Remaining shows are on August 30th and September 1st 2012.
– Performances begin at 8:00 PM
– Tickets are $20.oo
Tickets can be purchased at the door, or by email (